Social media firms need to limit features that hook youngsters on devices, Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has said.
Streaks, the number of consecutive days people have sent Snapchat messages to each other, should be dropped, she told the Telegraph.
She also pinpointed autoplay videos and algorithms that identify interests to serve youngsters with more content.
Snapchat said its streaks were not designed to encourage addiction.
“The internet is set up to be addictive. All of the algorithms on it are silently working there to keep us addicted, whether it is the little dots that come up to tell you someone is writing a reply, to the YouTube video that moves on to the next in a nanosecond.”
A Snapchat spokesperson said that Snapstreaks were designed to allow friendships to deepen over time and were meant to be light-hearted and fun.
In recent updates, the streaks indicator has been made smaller to make them less of a focus, the spokesperson added.
The Children’s Commissioner’s words also echo those of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who said earlier this year that spending too much time on sites such as Facebook could pose as great a threat to children’s health as being obese.
He has met with executives from Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Google and Apple to discuss the issues.
He asked them whether they could provide evidence of what constitutes too long online and whether they can provide ways of alerting children who have exceeded that amount of time.
And, at its developer conference, Google also focused on moves to reduce screen-time, with pop-ups on YouTube telling youngsters to “take a break” after a certain amount of time, pre-determined by parents.