Google, like most companies that profit from online advertising, make it their business to know everything possible about what you’re doing online, and when possible offline. For parents who value knowing the whereabouts of our kids, Google may be turning this into a benefit.
This week Google is launching Trusted Contacts, an Android app designed to allow your closest family members to quickly access information about your whereabouts and online activity. There’s no word as yet about whether an iOS version s forthcoming, or when.
If you’re a parent giving your child his or her first phone, this is something we’re likely to recommend after we’ve had chance to see how it works in the real world.
After downloading the free app, the parent or child can log in using the child’s Gmail credentials and activate the location history in Google Maps – a log of all the places you’ve been with your phone GPS turned on. Note: this is one reservation we have about the app. Kids and teens will need to be careful to have location turned on for this app, but should keep it off for most others with some exceptions (i.e. Google Maps is okay, but Facebook checkins can be an unnecessary risk).
After parent and child have both turned on and logged into the app, a parent can:
- See a log of the places his child has been
- Request the precise location of the child at any time
- See the phone’s activity status to make sure that it is on and connected
Additionally, kids using the app can send a message to a parent any time they are lost or feel unsafe. Parents responding will have the luxury of knowing exactly where the distressed child is.
With kids getting smartphones earlier and earlier, this app could be a big help in a number of situations. If a parent is unsure whether that kid made it to the after school event, or on a family trip to the zoo when one child wanders off, this is a great solution.
Google already collects a ton on information about all of its users – many would argue too much information. That they’re now offering a free product principally promoting user safety is a very good thing.
If your teen or tween is active online and you are having trouble keeping up, we can help. We respect your kids’ privacy and give you the tools you need to be a better digital parent. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!
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