Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, thanked social media company Snapchat for its new parental control feature, which was rolled out in the UAE on Wednesday.
Introduced globally last month, the “Family Centre” feature allows parents to see accounts teenagers have been in conversation with over the past seven days, although they will not be able to see the content.
The feature also gives parents permission to confidentially report any abusive or suspicious accounts to the app's safety team.
To activate the feature, parents invite their teenagers to join Family Centre on Snapchat, which gives them access to their friends list.
Snapchat plans to introduce additional features in the coming months, including notifications to parents when their teenagers reports abuse from a user.
Snap’s new tools follow a similar move by Instagram, which launched its Family Centre in March, allowing parents to view what accounts their teenagers follow and how much time they spend on the app.
The feature's launch in the UAE followed co-operation between the Ministry of Possibilities and Snap, news agency Wam reported.
The feature supports “the UAE's efforts in its endeavours to enhance … digital well-being, ensure that the internet is safe and secure, and provide a safe environment especially for children”, by using modern technology, Wam said.
The Family Centre feature was unveiled at a ceremony at the Ministry of Possibilities, attended by Sheikh Saif, Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Governmental Development and Future, Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Digital Economy, AI and Remote Working System, as well as representatives from Snapchat.
The attendees witnessed the sign-up of the first Emirati family that will make use of the new feature.
Writing on Twitter, Sheikh Saif, thanked Snapchat for creating a safer digital environment for teenagers.
“My appreciation goes out to Snapchat for its distinguished efforts in enhancing the quality of digital life and providing a safe environment for children as part of the UAE government's ongoing efforts to improve the quality of digital life,” he said.
“Launching the Family Centre feature to support positive parental control and a safer digital future, Snapchat has collaborated with the Ministry of Possibilities to consolidate positive parental control for a safer digital future.”
By default, profiles for Snapchat users under 18 are private and they only show up as a suggested friend in search results when they have friends in common with another user. Users must be at least 13 years old to sign up.
Snapchat has more than 75 million users in the Mena region, one of the platform’s biggest global markets.