National's Hutt South MP Chris Bishop says he changed his policy around using social media app Snapchat to message young people after learning that parents were "unsure" about it.
Fairfax reported this morning that Bishop, who is National's spokesman for police and youth, was confronted before last year's election by a mother upset at him for messaging her daughter and other minors.
Witnesses reportedly said Bishop was taken aside and asked to stop what he was doing.
"I wanted to confront him as many parents felt very uncomfortable that their children were messaged," the mother told Fairfax.
"He admitted it straight away and thanked me for bringing it to his attention."
None of the parents were concerned that Bishop's intentions were anything other than misguided.
Bishop responded on Facebook to the Fairfax story this morning about using Snapchat to engage with and support young people in his electorate.
He said he communicated with young people through his account, but after hearing that some parents were "unsure" about their kids communicating with MPs on social media, he changed his settings so he could only interact with people he knew personally.
"My intention in being accessible on social media is to help me be an effective MP and it has proven a good way of engaging directly with constituents, including young New Zealanders who generally aren't that engaged in the political process.
"In mid-2017 it was suggested to me that I open a Snapchat account, which I did. This proved very popular and lots of people sent me messages through it. I got into the spirit of things and would often reply to messages sent to me. Most messages were of support from people in Lower Hutt, including young people, for me/National.
"However, after a few weeks I heard third hand that some parents were unsure about their kids communicating with MPs on social media. I adopted a policy of having a "Story Only" account and only having SnapChat friends that I knew personally."
He described media reports of his use of Snapchat to be "pretty upsetting".
"Every election, the media write stories about how young people don't vote, don't see any reason to vote, and how politicians are out of touch. I've set out to change that. It would be sad if politicians were put off engaging with young people because of stories like this."