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Location Sharing in Facebook's Messenger App: The Basics

By Steven Woda on November 19, 2014 at 12:09 PM

The launch of Facebook's Messenger App came with a whole lot of concern. Everyone seemed immediately worried about its safety as it has the ability to send your location along with every new message.

Questions and concerns about Facebook's location sharing feature and the safety of the feature have made waves across the media. The social media powerhouse even required that its mobile users either install the Messenger App, or give up using the Facebook private messaging feature altogether. The result: (even with clear evidence that it did indeed include your location in messenger by default) over 500 MILLION people downloaded it. Million.  

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How to Use Location Monitoring Without Being Creepy

By Steven Woda on August 13, 2014 at 11:18 AM

As parents, it's only natural for you to worry about where your children are, who they are with, and what they are doing. However, it is just as important to respect their limitations and privacy. So how do you do both?

Nowadays, there are so many ways to use location monitoring that it could be overwhelming. It could be used to share your location on social media, find directions, book travel, and more. It's no wonder than many find location monitoring creepy! On the upside, since most people use location services nowadays, monitoring children can be easier and less-intrusive than it was before. 

Recently, we wrote about why location monitoring your teens and tweens is not creepy. Put the idea into practice with these steps:

1. Have a discussion with your child.

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Dangers of the New Location-Sharing Facebook Feature: Nearby Friends

By Tim Woda on May 20, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Facebook has recently launched a new location sharing feature called Nearby Friends. Naturally, the introduction of the new feature (and the general popularity of location-sharing within social media) is a bit disconcerting for parents of tweens and teens. Sharing locations can increase the dangers of cyberbullying and stalking by strangers and "friends" alike. 

What is Nearby Friends?

The basic idea of the Nearby Friends feature is to further connect people within the network.  Similar to other apps with location tracking systems like FourSquare, Connect, and SocialRadar, Nearby Friends pulls information about the locations of other Facebook friends who have enabled the feature and displays where users are on a map. If there are a certain number of friends located in a user's surrounding area, they will receive a notification about which friends are in the area and are encouraged to view their locations. 

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Understanding the Location-Tracking FourSquare App

By Tim Woda on April 30, 2014 at 2:48 PM

What is FourSquare? 

FourSquare is a free location-based social networking app for smartphones where people can see what is going on around them and find their friends' locations.

How can the app be used?

Users can “check in” to FourSquare when they go somewhere, and the GPS coordinates are recorded. It is like a game of sorts, with the ability to earn points and badges for checking in. If enough points are earned, a user is crowned the “mayor” of an area – until someone else earns more. Some businesses also offer discounts to FourSquare users for checking in at their location.

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Your Kids and Their “Internet Posse”

By Steven Woda on July 11, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Parents may not get it. Actually, I didn’t get “it” until I was forced to evaluate child-directed websites as a part of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) compliance, as newly required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

Starting July 1, 2013, the FTC requires that sites and applications directed primarily to children, effectively allow parents to review where their child’s information is shared, and delete that internet footprint, or record of sharing.  This sharing of child information through ad networks, cookies, clear gifs, beacons, etc. is what one can consider your child’s “Internet Posse”.  They are a Posse as they are not there just for the initial sharing of internet activity, but in behavioral advertising networks; they can follow your child’s internet activities outside of the child website that they visited.

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You Need To Add Location Monitoring To Your Child's Phone Right Now

By Tim Woda on March 5, 2013 at 5:29 PM

The Numbers

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, over 800,000 people under the age of 18 go missing on an annual basis. Some of these are simple incidents of the child getting lost and reappearing later, surprised that everyone was so concerned. However, approximately 258,000 of these cares are outright abductions in some shape or form.

Put into perspective, ChildStats.gov notes that for the year the study used by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was conducted, there were roughly 71.9 million children in the United States. By these numbers, over a full percent of them would go missing each year. Looking at it another way, the average elementary school (476 students) would probably see one and a half of those students actually abducted sometime during the year, and several more simply not show up for reasons other than skipping.

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4 Things You Need to Know About FourSquare and Keeping Your Kids Safe

By Steven Woda on July 17, 2012 at 9:11 AM

Many tweens and teens love FourSquare, a free application available for GPS-enabled smartphones.

Here are 4 vital things you need to know about FourSquare to keep your kids safe when they're using the location-based social networking app.

1. It's not just a game:

On FourSquare, your child earns points for “checking in” at certain locations and earns badges (checkins at 20 different pizza places, for example.) If she frequently checks in at the same place, she could become “mayor” of that location.

But even though it sort of feels like a game, FourSquare is actually a social network where people can

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