foursquare

 
Location-based social network too risky for younger teens.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

While the overall message is that it’s good to get out and hang with friends, the app makes it too easy to put teens at risk. Used wisely, this social networking service can be fun and safe. But the app's listing of bars, pool halls, and other adult destinations in addition to tamer fare like libraries and restaurants send the message that it's OK for kids to frequent these places, too. It doesn't help that that partiers earn special titles such as Crunked.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language

Users comments are unmoderated and language like "bitch" and "ass" appear regularly.

Consumerism

Members are encouraged to frequent food and service establishments as a part of the social networking experience, and some businesses hand out special offers to key visitors. Foursquare also offers daily deals through partnerships with companies such as Living Social. Several companies' logos appear on the website.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Entries exist for bars and other venues that serve or sell alcohol and some comments include descriptions of drinking, smoking, etc.

Privacy & safety

This site can create some big privacy issues, though there are lots of options for controlling privacy. Registration requires a first name, email address, city, and state. However, users can block access to most profile info. "Checking in" by phone app or computer automatically sends a message to friends of the user's whereabouts. However, users can disable this notification. In fact, the service doesn't use GPS to determine users' locations (though it uses GPS to show locations near you -- like a map); it depends on the honor system. The site shares your check-in info with some businesses unless you opt-out. The public display shows your profile picture and first name with last initial. 

None.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Foursquare is a location-based social network that encourages members to meet in person. Granted, the service warns users to friend carefully and does provide pretty good privacy, including the option to post anonymously. But a big part of this new breed of social networking is sharing where you are and inviting other members to drop by. With photos of attractive young members featured on the Web site and tie-ins to Facebook and Twitter, it will be all too tempting for some kids to attempt making new real-life friends with Foursquare. And with no age limits or predator filters, that could be a dangerous thing to do. 

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Foursquare shows promise as a way for people on the go to socialize. Users set up a member profile on the Foursquare Web site.  The text-based mobile page for laptop users is ugly and limited in functionality, but the iPhone app is easy to use. (Android, Blackberry, and Palm Pre apps are available too.) The Foursquare database offers plenty of locations ranging from bars and restaurants to hardware stores and libraries to famous landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty. A map, Yelp reviews, a commenting capability, and auto notifications round out the best features. Each check-in at a location earns points, which for now translate into menu discounts and the like. We have just one request: deep-six the badges with rude names. Just what does it take to earn a Douchebag award, anyway?     

Online interaction: Anything goes and there are no moderators. Users tell friends where they are by checking in -- tapping in a location on phone or laptop -- when they arrive. Notified friends can then send an email, call, or just show up for an in-person connection. Users also can check tweets near a specific location to see who’s out and about. The tweets that popped up near a bar in our neighborhood were full of kid-inappropriate content.

Families can talk about...

  • Location-based social networks take the reach of cell phones into kids' lives yet another step farther. If you’re still struggling to set limits on cell phone use, read our usage tips.

  • If they're careful, kids can use a location-based social network like Foursquare safely. Discuss the importance of never agreeing to meet a stranger from the Internet and limiting friends to real-life pals. We have more social networking advice here.

Website details

Genre:Social Networking
Pricing structure:Free

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byMasonline January 27, 2011
age 17+
 
Any social networking site can be dangerous. The best way to deal with this is to create an account of your own, and make your child add you to the friend list with full access. This way you'll be able to see what they're saying, and decide whether or not it could be dangerous, or inappropriate.
Kid, 11 years old April 12, 2011
age 11+
 

A great way to explore the city with your friends and family!

Let me tell you this: foursquare is an amazing website - when put to use correctly. foursquare is a new generation of social networks that allow you to 'check in' (broadcast your location online) to your favourite places, be it the public park, or a local Starbucks. It also lets you leave online 'tips' for the places. These are essentially mini-reviews or, as the name suggests, tips (e.g. "Ask for the secret sauce!" at a burger restaurant). Whilst it does have some significant security vulnerabilities - mainly the fact that it openly broadcasts your location publicly - foursquare, if used correctly, can become a great way to explore your town or city with your family or friends. The bottom line, however, is that, unless your child is about 15/16 years old, do not let your child create your own account. My account is my parents as well, and they control it. It could give away your location to pedophiles, etc. although while the government promotes it, most of the internet is not full of rapists that will abduct your children. It's a very stereotypical view. The pure reason I have rated it on for 11+ is because it is a brilliant way to find potential new restaurants/places of leisure for you and your family!
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 12 years old March 1, 2012
age 11+
 

what the heck

for 17 yrs olds kiddin right just language on this so what it is life people so people can take words like what they have use it
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages

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