In 2019, checking in on a family member is easier than ever. Gone are the days of calling or texting to see if Sally has arrived at school or that Mom is driving and should be home by 7. There are apps that can passively keep an eye on friends and family members’ whereabouts, and that’s a huge relief. No more worrying when someone forgets to call or is running late. A quick glance at your tracking app tells you all you need to know.
Location-sharing apps like Find My Friends for iPhone, Life 360 and even Snapchat can be very useful tools for your family. But it’s also important to make sure strangers aren’t taking advantage of the location sharing, as well.
If you’re going to allow your child to share their location, you should first know what app they’re using and who can see their location. Apps like Find My Friends are private and the location can only be shared with people you choose. However, apps like Snapchat will put the location on a public map, where almost anyone can see it. The Family Online Safety Institute recommends these tips when using these apps:
Make guidelines with your family about location sharing.Talk to your child about which location-sharing apps they are allowed to use, when they can use them, and what settings they should enable on the apps.
Determine who can have access to your child’s location. While it’s safe for some family and friends to know your child’s location, your child should not broadcast their location to their entire contacts list.
Use apps that have clear policies about where location information is going.Avoid any location-tracking app that does not specifically address what it does with any location information it gathers.
Remind them of the pitfalls of knowing other users’ locations.Because these apps allow your child to see where their friends are, they could end up feeling excluded if they see their friends gathered somewhere without them. It can be hurtful, but remind your child to avoid reading too far into what their friends are doing without them.