Common Sense Media says

Foursquare-type social media app meant for older audiences.





What parents need to know

Ease of play

This is a simple and intuitive application. Most users can discover everything they need to know simply by surfing around its menus.

Not applicable
Not applicable

Users may run across foul or inappropriate language posted by other users in the form of "spot" comments, though this appears to be uncommon.


Users can search for local stores, restaurants, and other establishments commented on by other users by tapping “spots.” Company names and tourist attractions are highlighted throughout -- including Vail Resorts, USA Today, National Geographic, Subway, etc. Also, users sometimes receive offers of free or discounted brand-name products.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Entries exist for bars and other “spots” that serve or sell alcohol.

Privacy & safety

This app can create privacy issues.To sign up users are asked for full names, email address, hometown, cell phone number, and photo, though only an email address and cell phone number are required, and this info is not displayed to the public. Users can choose to post a profile photo; many people use their real full names on the site. Users can choose to share their locations with everyone (this is the default setting), or limit their location check-in info to friends. Even if users limit their location info to friends, if they create new "spots" or "drop" items at spots, their name and the date they visited will be viewable by everyone. Users must opt-in to share their locations through Facebook or Twitter.

This app allows users to perpetually update their location through the app itself as well as Twitter and Facebook, making it easy for friends -- and potentially strangers -- to determine where they are. Users can also search for nearby friends.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Gowalla is a social media app geared for grownups. Users communicate their locations using not just the app, but also by using Twitter and Facebook, which means friends -- and potentially strangers -- can track a user’s whereabouts. Among the locations listed are adult venues, including bars and dance clubs. User comments are unfiltered and rely on community policing to flag posts that include profanity, hate speech, or inappropriate sexual content, but it's likely that these will appear on the site, at least occasionally. Comments frequently reference drinking, partying, etc.  Also note that users can create “trips” that suggest multiple locations for others to visit; some of these trips have adult themes, such as pub crawls. For more parent advice about location-sharing apps, check out our article.

Parents say

Kids say

Is it any good?


Similar in design and function to the popular Foursquare app, GOWALLA has users check in at various “spots” (restaurants, stores, bars, landmarks, etc.) and post their location on the app, as well as to Twitter and Facebook. Some differences between the two include Gowalla’s ability to let users post photos of the locations they visit, find directions to spots via Google Maps, and create “trips,” which are groups of spots created by one user for other users to visit, such as landmark tours or pubcrawls. Like Foursquare, Gowalla’s location-sharing features and inclusion of mature spots and trips makes this app best used by adults. 

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:June 17, 2010
Category:Social Networking
Publisher:Alamofire, Inc.
Minimum software requirements:iOS 3.0 or later

This review of Gowalla was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

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

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 9 years old January 3, 2011

Over $5 Gumball Vending Machine When You Have It

Gumball Vending Game For App
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Educational value
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 13 years old Written byF-Zero studios September 8, 2010

i have this app on the itouch

perfect app only for 8 and older
What other families should know
Educational value
Parent of a 6 year old Written bymadsmooney1214 June 11, 2012


if you think csm is crazy click read my mind
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?


What are the different ways that you access Common Sense Media ratings and information? (Check all that apply)

Essential Apps Guide