Snap Map guidance to be issued by council after MSP concerns

Gillian Martin says she is relieved to hear that council officers will be issuing guidance on this for all schools across the local authority.
Gillian Martin says she is relieved to hear that council officers will be issuing guidance on this for all schools across the local authority.

Guidance will be issued to schools across Aberdeenshire after a new social media app feature was introduced which enables users to show their exact locations.

The move comes after SNP MSP Gillian Martin wrote to Police Scotland, the director of education at Aberdeenshire Council and the Scottish Government’s Minster for Childcare and Early Years Mark McDonald.

The new ‘snap map’ is automatically put on, enabling the feature, when someone updates their phone.

The minimum age to sign up for Snapchat is 13, but reports have emerged of a number of children using it despite the age requirements.

Now the local authority’s director of education and children’s services Maria Walker has informed of plans to protect pupils.

In a letter to Ms Martin she said: “I can confirm that the issue was raised by a Head Teacher of Aberdeenshire Council before the holidays. Since then I have asked for our officers to look at issuing guidance after the summer recess.”

Only last month, parents at Buchanhaven Primary school in Peterhead were sent letters advising them to make sure the feature was disabled.

And earlier this year there was an incident in Ms Martin’s constituency involving an 11-year-old child whose images were distributed amongst a group of older boys after appearing on the social media app.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin said: “I am relieved to hear that council officers will be issuing guidance on this for all schools across the local authority.

“The snap map is a feature which many people will still be unaware of and it’s really important we continue to encourage dialogue with parents and teenagers alike.

“I’m delighted Maria Walker and staff are tackling this issue head-on and I look forward to seeing how the new guidance is implemented following the summer recess.

“It is really important we continue to have conversations with our children and that there is sound advice out there for parents too on what is available online for people to see.

“I would encourage people to be vigilant of allowing these kind of features, particularly when children are going to be travelling to and from school.”