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Spot: Your Inner Circle

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Spot: Your Inner Circle App Poster Image
Appearance, appeal spot-on. Teens' best interest? Way off.

Parents say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Created for entertainment purposes only. Not intended for learning. 

Ease of Play

Sharing function is inconsistent. 

Violence

No violence in the app itself; user communications could contain references to or images of violence. 

Sex

No sex in the app itself; user communications could contain sexual references or images.

Language

No profanity in the app itself; user communications could contain bad language.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Emojis of beer and wine glasses; suggested activity "Get a drink." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spot: Your Inner Circle is a social networking app that lets users share their activities and keep tabs on their friends via location tracking and custom maps. Registration requires a phone number (which must be verified) and the app requests access to your contacts. Although the app lets users set their device location settings to “Always, Never, or While Using App,” registration can't be completed unless users set it to “Always.” Custom maps reveal users' locations—not with specific coordinates, but within a city block. Some emojis contain imagery of alcoholic beverages, and a suggested activity is “Go for a drink.” The app lets users add friends by opening the app and shaking phones near one another; “pass notes” to one another (messages that auto-delete upon being read); and send each other texts, photos, videos, music chat (popular songs) and GIFs. Activities within the app are presented as a game, letting players unlock additional features by completing “Missions” such as creating maps and adding friends. There's also a way to talk about others anonymously. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change. 

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What's it about?

SPOT: YOUR INNER CIRCLE lets you monitor your friends activities through real-time, location-based maps and stay in contact with them through voice and text chat. Upon registration, you can add friends from your phone contact list and create custom groups. Groups then have their own private chat, and members appear on an area map for easy contact and reference. The app functions like a game, letting you unlock new map styles, emojis, and “ammo” as you complete “Missions.”  Ammo (silly emojis) is used for a simple mini-game that lets you “shoot” other friends' icons within maps. In addition to being able to “disappear” from maps or “freeze” your location on them for scheduled meet-ups, you can also “pass notes” to friends—text messages that automatically delete upon being read. There's also a way to talk about people anonymously.

Is it any good?

Though the functionality and appearance of this social media app is on-point, its features lend themselves to hurt feelings and dishonesty. Its presentation is colorful, attractive, whimsical—it even has an emoji-based mini-game. Still, parents concerned about kids' obsession with phones and friends aren't likely to enjoy its conspiratorial tone. It starts by encouraging kids to gossip by passing "secret notes": The app store calls it “gossip that self-destructs." These text messages auto-delete once the recipient has read them, and it's no stretch to imagine kids using this feature to bad mouth or exclude each other. Being able to talk about others anonymously only adds to this element. Also, Spot: Your Inner Circle introduces the “freeze” feature that lets you freeze your location “when you sneak out somewhere.”  Though the stated intent is for kids to use when they want to "go off the grid," there are safety issues and implications of sneakiness that undermine any potential positives. In terms of the questionable features, though the developers say they want they app to be "warm and carefree," encouraging gossip and anonymous comments about others will likely foster just the opposite. Still, like so many products in the app store today, Spot: Your Inner Circle is like that bad kid your mother warned you about - it's cool enough to draw you in but treats your well-being like an afterthought. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about setting limits for online communication on Spot: Your Inner Circle and other social media apps. How much contact with friends is too much? How can you find balance?

  • Discuss the risks of revealing your location online. Do your kids understand why it's not a good idea to do this? 

  • Think about how technology aids and abets bad behavior. How does tech make it easier for kids to exclude and/or hurt other kids? 

App details

For kids who love keeping up with friends

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