Navigating Location Services: what parents need to know

Kim Maslin on Mar 11, 2016

Benefits of Location Services on phone

Location Services provide a wonderful opportunity for individuals to find, learn and explore.

Location Services are available on most smart devices these days, and tap into GPS data in order to track your physical location. Many apps including family & child locator by Familoop are now capitalizing on location service features, by allowing you to track or plan your movements or to let you know about places (or people!) nearby. Many businesses have also jumped on the bandwagon, and provide special offers to those who “check-in” at their venue. There has also been an explosion of location service-based apps relating to dating and social networking.

Children at risk

The risk of course, is when this information falls into the wrong hands.

For children, the risk is even more pronounced. You would not feel comfortable with a “man in a van” following your child as they walked home from school, and yet when they enable location services via their smartphone – they are making it possible for a global network of “men in vans” to track their movements!

So, what can you do?

Firstly, you need to ask yourself – does my child need location services on?

Genuine reasons why they may need location services enabled include:

  1. To use a map app in case they get lost
  2. If using the “Find my iPhone” app, Location Services need to be enabled
  3. If using the Familoop Safeguard app, Location Services are required to track your child’s whereabouts

If this is the case, then the best course of action is to consider enabling Location Services only for specific apps, rather than all of them. This way, you can limit the amount of location-based information about your child that is out there.

Each device will differ, however let’s continue with our Apple theme and look at the process for an iPhone:

  • Open up Settings
  • Go to Privacy > Location Services
  • Location Services will need to be slid “on
  • Below this, you will see a whole list of available apps that make use of location services. Alongside each app, you can determine whether this app uses your location services “never” or “while using the app
A word of advice

Only enable location services for the apps that are going to genuinely assist your child is staying safe (i.e. maps, or parent control apps like Familoop Safeguard). Many others like to grab as much information about you as possible – for example, different gaming apps – but more often than not, it isn’t necessary or beneficial to you (or your child) for these apps to be collecting this data.

So, there you have it. One of the most important safety issues online at the moment is the emergence of location-based app services. Although they can be fun and add some value, it is essential that as a cyber-savvy parent, you consider the purpose of allowing this information to be collected about your child and be selective in which apps you enable location services for.

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