Fianna Fáil’s Seanad Group Leader, Senator Catherine Ardagh has warned parents to be vigilant of a new upgrade to popular photo sharing app, Snapchat.

The new feature, Snap Map which was made available to all iOS and Android Snapchat users last week allows a user to accurately locate you on a map in real time.

Senator Ardagh commented, “According to Statista, in the third quarter of 2016 almost 90% of Irish teenagers were avid Snapchat users. The app which is almost 6 years old has proven to be an increasingly popular sharing app, with a reported 150 odd million users worldwide.

“While the app is colourful and creative, if Snapchat users are not cautious, Snap Map will broadcast your exact location to anyone on your friends list each time you open the app. Some will have people on their friends list that they will not know personally or in reality.

“I am concerned that many young users may put themselves in vulnerable situations and may even inadvertently broadcast their home address, their school.

“This new feature has the very clear potential to put young users at risk.

“We have seen too many incidents in the past when dubious characters have used the internet and social media to exploit and take advantage of those that are unprotected online.

“I encourage parents to be aware of and encourage their children to use the opt-out feature ‘Ghost mode’ which allows a user to hide their location.

“We can all often fall into the trap of agreeing to updates and new settings on apps without looking at the specifics or fine print but it is important that parents and guardians take heed of this new risk.

“As the internet and social media continues to reach further and further into people’s lives, it’s important that we put in place safeguards to ensure our young people are fully protected from any potential harm,” concluded Senator Ardagh.