Snapchat’s AI chatbot now under parental control
Snapchat has introduced a new feature that allows parents to disable the use of the app’s “My AI” chatbot for their teenagers. Concerns about the safety of minors using the AI chatbot prompted this change. When the tool is disabled, teens can still contact My AI through messaging, but the chatbot’s response will simply notify them that it has been turned off.
This update is part of Snapchat’s latest update to its Family Center, which includes several new features.
The company launched My AI in April last year, raising parents’ concerns about the potential impact of their children interacting with a highly personalized computer chatbot. To address these concerns, Snapchat has implemented safeguards in My AI, such as measures to prevent inappropriate or harmful replies, limitations on usage in case of repeated misuse, and age awareness.
In addition to the ability to disable the AI chatbot, the Family Center update also includes features that allow parents to monitor their teenagers’ safety and privacy settings. Parents can now view who their child is sharing Stories posts with and who can contact them on the app. They can also keep track of whether their child is using the app’s live “Snap Map” feature to share their location with friends.
Snapchat has also introduced a “strike system” that targets accounts promoting inappropriate content for teens in the app’s Stories and Spotlight sections, where public sharing is allowed.
There has been increasing scrutiny of social media platforms’ impact on teenagers’ mental health and addiction issues. In November, a federal judge ruled that Snap, Google, Meta, and TikTok must face a lawsuit claiming their platforms contributed to these issues. The companies had attempted to dismiss the lawsuit, citing protection under the First Amendment and Section 230.
These updates to Family Center aim to provide parents with tools to monitor the online activity of their 13- to 17-year-old children, and they come ahead of a planned appearance by Snap CEO Evan Spiegel at a Senate subcommittee hearing later this month about youth safety on social media.