Find My Friends

 

Learning(i)

Parental controls help lessen risks of Apple's location app.

What parents need to know

Ease of play

The app is simple to use with an always-on feature for those who want it -- and an easy way to turn off location sharing for moments when you want privacy. 

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language

Users can set up events, which could open the door for potentially offensive language. 

Consumerism

Users are likely to be found at any number of retail establishments, which could promote that company to their peers. There are no explicit ads, however. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Users may be at a bar or other establishment that sells alcohol or smoking materials when friends look for them. 

Privacy & safety

Significant privacy concerns. The app is a location tracker, meaning you're able to share your location with others and they with you. There are notable parental controls that Apple has included, such as the ability to turn sharing off and on at any given time and restricting certain users to general locations, rather than specific ones. You can also share locations for only a temporary period (arguably to invite friends to an event, such as a party). The concern here is that while it's technologically easy to turn off sharing, it's easy for something like that to slip your mind, which could result in people being able to track you without your knowledge. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Find My Friends is a location-sharing app for iOS devices. While there are several notable parental controls, the app is still best suited for older teens and adults. Users can communicate their location to friends (who have to request permission to add you to their tracking list). And while users can turn off location sharing, it's easy to forget and leave turned on. Parents can turn the app off on their children's iOS devices (and prevent them from turning it off as well, allowing them to use the iOS product as a tracking device).

What kids can learn

Skills

Communication

  • multiple forms of expression
  • friendship building

Responsibility & Ethics

  • making wise decisions
  • respect for others

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

It's not dramatically different than other location sharing services, but it does the job well and includes enough additional features that it might be worth checking out -- if the user is age appropriate. 

Learning Approach

With guidance from their parents, teens can learn about responsible sharing, privacy, and ways to socialize with others. Teens can learn important tech and social skills, but parental guidance is essential.

Support

While the tutorial is very good at explaining how to use the app, the app itself doesn't give teens much guidance on making good decisions when they're using it.

What kids can learn

Skills

Communication

  • multiple forms of expression
  • friendship building

Responsibility & Ethics

  • making wise decisions
  • respect for others

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Because of the privacy and safety risks with location-sharing apps, Find My Friends should be restricted to use by older teens. With guidance from their parents, teens can learn about responsible sharing, privacy (managing their own and respecting others'), and ways to socialize with others. While the tutorial is very good at explaining how to use the app, the app itself doesn't give teens much guidance on making good decisions when they're using it. Teens can learn important tech and social skills, but parental guidance is key.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chris Morris

Parents say

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What's it about?

Users broadcast their location, allowing their friends to track them throughout the day. It's permission-based (not allowing anyone to track you without your consent) and comes with plenty of parental controls. Users can alert friends to events and spur-of-the-moment get-togethers.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The risks that accompany any location tracking app are present in FIND MY FRIENDS, but to Apple's credit, the company has taken several steps to mitigate risk. That said, the app is still not a wise choice for children, unless parents want to use the iPod Touch or iPhone as a tracking device for their kids.

The free app allows people to track where their friends are, but uses a permission-based system. No one can track you unless you give your consent first. (Kids, though, might let anyone track them in an effort to build a large cache of online "friends.") It's easy to stop broadcasting your location, but given people's tendencies to sometimes forget simple tasks, it's inevitable that users will sometimes inadvertently announce where they are when they would rather not. Functionality-wise, it's not dramatically different than other location sharing services, but it does the job well and includes enough additional features (such as temporary location sharing) and controls that it might be worth checking out -- if the user is age appropriate. 

Families can talk about...

  • Use the parental controls and talk about the restrictions you're setting and why you're setting them.

  • Talk about when it's OK -- and when it's not OK -- for others to track your teen's location. Give specific examples.

  • Offer advice on other ways teens can stay in touch with friends.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:October 13, 2011
Category:Social Networking
Size:10.40 MB
Publisher:Apple
Version:1.0
Minimum software requirements:iOS 5.0 or later

This review of Find My Friends was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old September 27, 2012
age 3+
 
LEARNING

age 17????

this is an app that is perfectly fine for younger kids. age 17????????? what??? there is nothing bad on this app. it is great if you are a parent and you don't know where your kid is. it is good for kids to find where there parents are. it is good for all people even if they need to know where they are. Find my friends is for people of all ages and it works for ipads, ipods, and iPhones.
Teen, 16 years old Written byalynichelle May 3, 2013
age 5+
 

Location Tracking for friends & family

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Safety and privacy concerns

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