A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
MAPPEN – MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN is a free social networking app that lets users create maps of their favorite places and share them with friends. It can can also share your real-time location with one or more friends, and teens can use a selection of emojis to enhance communication. Teens can only connect with people in their own contact lists and have full control over who they share their location with at any time. As teens try to add friends, the app asks if they want to "follow" that person in stead of "invite" them. If you choose to "follow," the app sends a text to that person to get them to sign up. The Friend function lets friends-of-friends attend your events, and a built in “hide” function lets you hide events from specific people. The Map function allows searches for specific locations and commentary on them, and provides directions to those locations via Google Maps and Uber. Invites/event announcements allow invitees to comment. The Meet-up function lets users suggest activities to friends, set specific meetup details, and designate “top” friends.
Is it any good?
This location-sharing networker does have some safeguards in place, but it's still a risky -- and technically glitchy -- choice for teens. On the upside, teens only choose people to add from their own contact list and can choose to be invisible if they don't want to share their location. However, if teens don't stay on top of the settings, they may continuously share their location which is a problem for a wide variety of reasons, including the fact that they might not make the best choices about who to add. The most likely problem, however, is fuel for teen drama, so if your kid can see friends hanging out but wasn't invited, there'll be hurt feelings. The "hide" feature, though likely meant to safeguard feelings, is another potential drama-creator if someone forgets to use it. And if relationships go sour or a significant other gets clingy, having your location on display is a set-up for trouble. In terms of functionality, the app's effectiveness varies across platforms; at present, only Apple users can create “favorites” maps. Android users can't add locations to maps without attaching them to specific events. Worse, because of the confusion around inviting others ("follow" vs. "invite"), many reviews indicate the app feels "spammy" because it texts people who don't yet have the app. While it seems fun and potentially safe to share location with friends only, the disadvantages of constant location sharing (even with friends only) outweigh the advantages. Instead of using Mappen – Make Something Happen teens can stick to finding out what's happening the old-fashioned way -- through text.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about apps that use your location like Mappen - Make Something Happen. When is OK to let an app know your location? When does that get risky?
Discuss when and how to create invite lists. How do you limit invites without hurting people's feelings?
Talk about the difference between in-person friends and online friends. Who in your contact list is it safe to share your location with? Are there people in your contacts that aren't really friends?
For kids who love social networking and hanging out with friends
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