MWC

UK Children's Commissioner calls for parents to ban children from Snapchat

Tim Maytom

Anne Longfield, the UK's Children's Commissioner, has told parents that they should not allow their children to use Snapchat, saying that the app had "addictive elements".

The comment came during an interview with radio station LBC on the topic of bullying and harassment online. Longfield is an independent advisor on children's issues to the UK government, and was appointed as Children's Commissioner for England in March 2015.

According to Longfield, she was aware of an increasing number of schools that had banned Snapchat from devices, as well as parents who were not allowing their children to use the app.

She was particularly critical of Snapchat's 'streak' feature, which encourages engagement by praising users who have messaged friends daily for more than three consecutive days. The app shows emojis next to the names of users who have 'streaked', and users must keep exchanging messages in order to retain their streak.

"It's Snapchat that has particularly addictive elements where you have to streak with friends and keep friendship with them," said Longfield, during her interview with LBC presenter Nick Ferrari. "There's a lot to be explained there."

Longfield said that she had sought a meeting with Snapchat to discuss these elements of the app, but had yet to sit down with the company. Last week, the Children's Commission published a report about the negative effects that social media can have on children, how children often feel pressure to stay on social media platforms when they would rather leave, and how 'likes' have become a new form of social validation children feel pressured to win.

The interview took place as Ferrari launched his own anti-bullying charter campaign, which is seeking to better recognise the dangers of cyberbullying and ensure that cyberbullying advice is included in school guidelines.