Your teen’s smartphone knows where it (and he) is, and most of the time that’s a good thing. Many phone functions (like Google Maps) that are a mainstay of the current smartphone experience would not work without location turned on.
You may want to know where your teen and that phone are as well. If you use an app like TeenSafe (or one of many others) to monitor your teen’s location, that too will not work if location is turned off.
You don’t want strangers – especially predators – to know where your teen is, and this is the key pitfall to young smartphone users keeping location turned on. A new study out of MIT and Oxford University reveals that as few as 8 tweets over the course of a day, even to a low-tech hacker, can reveal both the home address and the school or workplace of a Twitter user. Based on our understanding, the same is true of Instagram, or any other app where location is a secondary, if optional, feature of user posts.
The study was designed to illustrate how much privacy social media users could be giving up, but in the case of young users and predators, privacy is far from an abstract construct. Snooping advertisers are one thing; strangers who could do harm a much more significant risk.
The good news is that this is easy to fix. If your teen is an iPhone user, you can go to Settings->Privacy and see whether Location is turned on or off. There is also a list of the apps which have requested access, and which have been granted access. You can turn location off for the phone entirely, or for individual apps. Settings are similarly structured for Android phones.
We recommend turning location off entirely for day-to-day use.
If your teen is at the Statue of Liberty, and wants to post a picture with the location marked, she can turn location on to make that post, then turn it off again. It takes a couple of seconds.
If you read this and ask your teen to turn location off, she’s probably comply, but you’ll need to make sure it stays off. We’re sure you wouldn’t encourage your teen to post “I live at 123 Main Street, Princeton NJ” to Twitter. Help her make sure she isn’t doing it by accident.
If you want to make sure your teen is not at risk, we can help. 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!
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.