Social location-sharing: Help for parents

By Anne Collier

More and more we’re hearing about location-based socializing in the news – for example, Loopt and Latitude for keeping track of friends in a geographical sort of way, Facebook’s new Places, the more game-like Foursquare, and Glympse for tracking kids for specific periods of time (like between 9pm and “curfew,” up to 4 hours max). Well, in case you’d like a little primer on these location-based services, or LBSs, we’re hearing more and more about, my ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid basically just wrote one for the San Jose Mercury News. He categorizes the phone-based ones as “active” (e.g., Foursquare, where you “check-in”) or “passive” (e.g., Latitude, where you just let yourself be tracked by the contacts you give to Latitude). Especially with services in the passive category, users need to remember to turn the service off when they don’t want to be tracked by their friends, and parents and kids need to talk about whether these products are installed on kids’ phones and how they’re being used (“Your boyfriend doesn’t need to know where you are every waking moment,” might be a topic that comes up, for example, just as with conversations about texting and turning the phone off when people are supposed to be sleeping). For tips on safe location-sharing, see these at ConnectSafely, as well as safety tips about general cellphone use, cyberbullying, and sexting.

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