Find My Friends
What parents need to know
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
- friendship building
- multiple forms of expression
Responsibility & Ethics
- making wise decisions
- respect for others
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
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.
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.
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'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?
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.