Foursquare: Just another way for your teens to tell weirdos where they are!

When I was a kid Four square was a game we played with a ball and four squares. Now Foursquare is a way for people to let their friends — and weirdos—know exactly where they are at any point in the day.

They “check in” via their cell phones and leave details about what they are doing there. In theory it’s supposed to be sort of a guide to a location. For example, you could check in at Sally’s Ice Cream shop and tell the world that the Mocha Pecan ice cream is to die for.  Then others in the area might check out Sally’s ice cream as well.

Here is a video teaching you how Foursquare works.

While I can see the attraction of location-based technology for consenting adults, the mother in me is TOTALLY creeped out by the idea of teenage and college-age girls broadcasting their locations!!

Foursquare isn’t the only location-based service. Twitter offers TwitterWhere and apparently Facebook Mobile also lets you identify where you are posting from. At least on Facebook only your ‘friends’ are seeing where you are. With Twitter and Foursquare your location and quite often your itty-bitty cute photo are out there for the whole world to see.

An AP story yesterday talked about how much teen phone use has increased (75 percent of teens have them now compared to 45 percent in 2004) and also how their parents use them. It said that 48 percent of parents use the phones to track their kids whereabouts, some with the internal GPS and some by calling them.

Verizon has an ad where the mom is sending her daughter off into the mall with her friends but she can now track her  through her phone like a dog with a microchip in it. I always wonder what she will do when she tracks her straight out of the mall and finds her cell phone dumped in a garbage can and her tween daughter missing.

So what do you think? How do you feel about location-based social media that your teens are probably using to reveal their locations to the world? Am I paranoid? Does it worry you? Do you think it increases their chances of getting hurt while they’re out and about?

Do you use your tween or teen’s GPS function to track them when they are out? How secure does it make you feel? (I guess it’s better than nothing??)

Would you as an adult like to use a location-based technology? Does it seem fun, interesting, useful or annoying?

50 comments Add your comment

Where...

April 21st, 2010
6:51 am

…do you come up with this stuff?

And, yes...

April 21st, 2010
6:54 am

…you are VERY paranoid…and by using the mom/daughter mall shopping ad as an illustration, what will you do, never let your kids go shopping by themselves until they move out of your house?

Jeff

April 21st, 2010
6:58 am

OK, TWG, this is 2 days in a row that you are showing me the obsessive mom syndrome. They’re kids. You take the necassary precautions, hope for the best, worry a little. But c’mon, we have created an environment where people are worried about some no-named, no-faced, crazy, boogie man lurking on every corner. And you know what, you walk around scared of life all the time. Bad people exist, no doubt. Try taking some of that mental energy and put it into something positive.

Dennis

April 21st, 2010
7:20 am

Foursquare’s default privacy set up is to only show your check-ins to people you give permission to. With most adults, they only give that to people they know in real life.

While some people broadcast their location via Twitter (which is annoying to everyone who follows you) that too is optional.

MomOf2Girls

April 21st, 2010
7:49 am

Hey Jeff, guess what. They do lurk on many corners. My daughter’s (13 year old) friend showed up at our house Saturday. Apparently some perv saw her walking alone in the neighborhood and started asking her questions intended to find out who she is and where she lives. When he asked her if she’d ever had sex, she took off. Fortunately, although he followed her for a little, he turned around and left, and she made it safely to our house. The girl was really lucky – she could have been snatched instead and never seen again.

MomsRule

April 21st, 2010
7:55 am

Can someone please enlighten me? What exactly is the point of telling people where you are at any minute of the day?

You are absolutely correct, MomOf2Girls...

April 21st, 2010
8:00 am

…at the same time, you cannot go through life walking in FEAR – Your story (and thank goodness the girl is OK) points out that this happens whether you give out your location or not, which is the fear within Theresa in relating this story.

You do the best you can to protect your kids and family, yet there will ALWAYS be bad stuff that happens no matter how many precautions you take. You just can’t go around “waiting for or expecting” something bad to happen – if you do that you lose and your life is not very good…

Roswell Jeff

April 21st, 2010
8:03 am

I’m with MomsRule, what is the point of this, beyond the technology? Just because it can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done.

motherjanegoose

April 21st, 2010
8:12 am

Not into the technology but this does bring up something we should all consider:

Bad things can and do happen. As parents, we need to give our children the tools to handle them.
Role play with your children from the time they are little and cite situations where they need to make a decision about what needs to be done and QUICKLY.

I may have mentioned this before but I came around the corner with my shopping cart at Kroger.
A Mother was at the end of the aisle with her older daughter of 4ish. The littler girl ( 2 ish) was wandering near me. The Mom and sister were calling her to come with them to the next aisle.
Sister finally yelled STRANGER DANGER when I was nearing the 2 year old….she scampered to her family and the Mom turned red and apologized. I laughed and told her that I understood and would not be looking to take any extra children home with me. This was something they had talked about at their preschool and then as a family. At least they had a plan!

Sounds like Momof2Girls knows a young lady with a plan too.

We cannot keep children in a cocoon. As parents, we need to give them solutions to problems and let them use the solutions themselves…not just solve every problem for them or eliminate all problems from their lives.

Earl Waters

April 21st, 2010
8:24 am

Apparently some perv saw her walking alone in the neighborhood and started asking her questions intended to find out who she is and where she lives.

Where “perv” = someone saying “good afternoon” or “how’s it going?”

Tweets and Facebooks and Foursquares, oh my!

Could you people possibly be any more drama-queenish?

Roswell Jeff

April 21st, 2010
8:29 am

Bring your kids inside everyone… here comes Earl.

MomOf2Girls

April 21st, 2010
8:30 am

Actually MJG, she did everything we tell the girls NOT to do and was lucky to have lived to tell the tale and learn the lesson. She walked alone and she engaged in the conversation. Her explanation regarding why she answered him was that she didn’t want to be rude.

This girl has heard it before – don’t walk alone, don’t talk to strangers. Not sure about why she was walking alone anyway, but the message we pound into these kids’ heads of be polite overrode the occasionally reminded message of don’t talk to strangers.

I don’t want to hijack this topic, I just want to point out that kids will do stupid things even though we tell them not to. I agree we can’t keep children in a cocoon, but the message has to be continually reinforced. One discussion just isn’t enough.

DB

April 21st, 2010
8:33 am

So . . . if a parent doesn’t like it, why not just not allow the child to use it?

Problem solved. With the defaults in place, only a very few people would have access to the information, anyway.

My daughter had an epiphany a few years back, when she first started hanging out on Facebook. I had walked into the den and looked over her shoulder and casually inquired, “Whatcha doin’?” and she got all teen-girl-annoyed and said, “It’s PRIVATE!” I then inquired, “If it’s so private, why can 659 of your friends read it?” She gave me a blank look and started laughing. But I think it made her more aware of privacy.

Earl Waters

April 21st, 2010
8:33 am

Actually, Jeff, I would never bring harm to a child.

But hey, as long as nobody finds out you diddled your 14 yr-old niece everything’s cool, right? ;)

Polytron/E2M Sucks

April 21st, 2010
8:35 am

I never thought I’d say this, but this is one “blog” that needs to get back off of the subject!

Boooooorrrriiing!

Roswell Jeff

April 21st, 2010
8:37 am

Earl, we’re not interested in your nonsense.

Roswell Jeff

April 21st, 2010
8:50 am

I apologize for my stupid and rude comments. I’m such a busy-body!

JATL

April 21st, 2010
9:09 am

My problem with the Foursquare and other location “check-in” apps is that it’s ANNOYING! I don’t care where you are. If I’m supposed to meet you, then I should already know -other than that -WHAT is this obsession with having everyone plugged into every freaking thought, place and action you do all day?

However, I’m not terribly worried about my kids “checking in” on a forum like this when they get older. I feel like a) they won’t be there long enough for the “weirdos” who are stalking them to get it together to find them, and b)said weirdos won’t all have the ability to “see” their posts anyway. Theresa, you know not every stalker is out there stalking your kids! Good lord -I know it pays to be aware and vigilant in our society, but I don’t think everyone has a stalker or multiple stalkers, and I really think you need to chill out.

guy

April 21st, 2010
9:18 am

this doesnt really make things any less dangerous. if a perv is going to kidnap someone from sally’s ice cream shop, theyre going to kidnap someone from sally’s ice cream shop. all these programs (which i agree are pointless) do is tell the perv that some one is at the ice cream shop. some one is probably always going to be at the ice cream shop. how does this make it any less safe/more dangerous?

MomOf2Girls

April 21st, 2010
9:29 am

@guy, I agree – the girl I described had told no one where she was at the time. @JATL, this isn’t about stalkers, this is about opportunistic pervs. They’re the ones who are cruising around, either literally or electronically, looking for an easy target. Our goal as parents is to make our children appear to be targets that are too difficult to be worth the effort.

JATL

April 21st, 2010
9:35 am

@Momof2Girls -I was just using stalkers as an example. Opportunistic pervs are everywhere as you pointed out, and some dumb phone app isn’t going to make a difference to them. Technology is expanding so rapidly, if you don’t teach your kids how to use it responsibly now, then they WILL be in some kind of trouble later. My point is that they’re out there and they’ve always been out there and technology hasn’t changed that. Random pervs CANNOT see where your kid is -and how would they even hone in on YOUR kid unless they were stalking them to begin with?

Lori

April 21st, 2010
9:45 am

I really don’t get the idea of broadcasting to everyone where you are. I do have one friend that uses it, but she is an adult, not a teen. She is also a pilot based in Asia, so her locations are interesting to her friends back in the states because she “broadcasts” from all over the world. Why any teen would share the fact that they are at the local ice cream shop is beyond me.

momofone

April 21st, 2010
9:46 am

MomOf2Girls–I know you mean well in your advice to your girls but the “Don’t Talk To Strangers” rule is one that is misguided at best. To raise our kids to believe that they should never talk to strangers teaches them that motherjanegoose, the friendly elderly man who smiles at you on his daily walk and the clerk at Walmart are all as dangerous as the guy who asks inappropriate questions and tries to follow you home.

Your message should be “Don’t go anywhere with a stranger”. There may come a time when someone is making them very uncomfortable or trying to get them to leave a store, when they’ve been separated from you, and some random stranger who happens to be close by, might be the person they need to tell yell to–”help-I don’t know this man!” If we teach our kids to fear all strangers and not to talk to any of them we’re actually making them less safe. Some of these “strangers” are the very people that can help them if someone is making them feel threatened.

DramaQueenStayAtHomeMom

April 21st, 2010
9:48 am

They’re the ones who are cruising around, either literally or electronically, looking for an easy target.

Exactly! THEY”RE EVERYWHERE!!

Barricade the doors! Buy extra white bread and milk!

They’re going to get us all!!!

Holy snikeys!

Mom_of_1.5_kids

April 21st, 2010
9:51 am

your own husband might be that perv

most men are pervs anyway, thats what they told us in college.

Most women don’t know their husbands are ‘”pervs” ‘n such until its too late. Maybe they are frequently crusing M4M (male 4 male) section on craigslist.org also

MomOf2Girls

April 21st, 2010
10:01 am

@momofone, I agree with you to a point. This is a discussion that is far too complex for a blog. There are many layers involved, depending on how old the child is, what the situation is, etc. However, if a stranger drives up in a car and engages a 13 year old girl who is walking alone in conversation (where do you go to school, where do you live, what’s your phone number, etc), there is nothing you can tell me to convince me he’s not up to no good.

MomOf2Girls

April 21st, 2010
10:02 am

@DramaQueen you don’t get out much, do you?

Mom_of_1.5_kids

April 21st, 2010
10:12 am

your own husband might be that perv

most men are pervs anyway, thats what they told us in college.

Most women don’t know their husbands are ‘”pervs” ‘n such until its too late. Maybe they are frequently crusing M4M (male 4 male) section on craigslist.org also

momofone

April 21st, 2010
10:24 am

@MomOf2Girls– I completely agree that the guy following the 13 year old was exactly the situation to run from. My only point is that the “Don’t Talk to Stangers” rule that so many of us have told our children (me included!) should be ammended to “Don’t go anywhere with strangers” Not all stangers are evil and I think we do more harm than good when we send the message to our kids to fear everyone you haven’t met yet.

StayAtHomeMom

April 21st, 2010
10:26 am

Pervs are EVERYWHERE we live in Roswell and Sunday we were out. They are EVERYWHERE!!

I counted at LEAST 5-10 pervs on the street and in Walmart just planning on attempting a kindnapping or worse on teens. I”m a mom I can just tell.

I spotted one guy walking with a girl and immediately phone the police to report a kidnapping . I’m sure he’d claim he was related to her but you can never be too safe. He’ll think twice about doing that again!!

Mom_of_1.5_kids

April 21st, 2010
10:28 am

your own husband might be that perv

most men are pervs anyway, thats what they told us in college.

Most women don’t know their husbands are ‘”pervs” ‘n such until its too late. Maybe they are frequently crusing M4M (male 4 male) section on craigslist.org also

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 21st, 2010
10:47 am

@TWG….how can you really be creeped out at this when you’ve basically published the world the route you walk your children to school and when you do it? And that’s just one example.

Roswell Jeff

April 21st, 2010
10:56 am

@momofone – I understand what you are saying, but I think the whole reason for not talking to a stranger is so the child cannot become comfortable with the stranger. I don’t think most adult strangers are offended if a child does not converse back with them.

MomsRule

April 21st, 2010
11:11 am

I also try to teach my kids to follow their instincts. You have them for a reason.

If the situation feels wrong…it IS wrong. You don’t have to be able to make sense of it.

Way to often people (women and children in particular) ignore their “gut.” Don’t.

I can recall situations feeling wrong from my childhool and as an adult. I always follow my instinct and remove myself from the situation without a second thought.

TechMom

April 21st, 2010
11:13 am

I love how the media plays on people’s fears. The vast majority of kids who are abducted are taken by someone they know and more specifically by someone they are related to. Your kid has a greater chance of running away than someone snatching them but since the media sensationalizes every random abduction, people freak out about it. Sure it’s good to teach your kids to be cautious but sometimes it’s a little overboard.

I’m not a fan of publishing your every move online b/c quite frankly, who cares? But just like ANYTHING online, if you use the security features properly, you’re only publicizing this info to your “friends” and you have to teach your kids to only be friends with people they know but for the most part, it’s not a big deal. Your kid is more likely to run into a freak in a chat room (where they are ‘anonymous’) than someone track them down based on their tweets.

Anyway, my son has a cell phone and has since the summer before he was in 7th grade though we don’t pay extra for the GPS (tho when he lost his last phone we were kind of wishing we had so we could find it). Anyway, the phone is for me to be able to keep up with him but in the sense that I wanted him to be able to have some freedom not because I was trying to restrict him. For example, in the summer I want him to be able to go out and ride his bike and hang out with his friends without having to check in with me everytime he goes from one friend’s house to the next. My parents were hawks and it drove me crazy. If I said I was going to one friend’s house and wanted to go someone else’s house (even if it was next door), I either had to go home and tell them or I had to call and SPEAK to them. If they didn’t answer, then I had to go home. Not a big deal in a small neighborhood but I grew up military and even on a secure base my mom paranoid. I swore I would never be that parent!

DB

April 21st, 2010
11:35 am

I think the overriding thing about how most of these social media outlets are used by teenagers and young adults is that it does seem to be promoting/encouraging a rather flagrant form of narcissism. One writer called it the “Generation I” — because “everything is about ME — what I do, where I go, who I see, what I think, pictures of me and my friends, pictures of my dog, videos of my life, etc. etc. . . . ” Basically, everyone is a star in their very own media “event.”

What I find fascinating is that, somewhere along the line, these kids were never taught the concept of PRIVACY — i.e., it’s no one’s business WHAT you do. It’s liked we’ve crossed some sort of weird line — people who value their privacy are now seen as somewhat sinister, or having something to hide. Being “open” with your life is considered friendly, approachable and engaging. Maybe they figure the more they post, the more popular they appear. I don’t know. For someone who values her privacy, I am astonished at the stuff that people put out there for the public’s delectation.

JATL

April 21st, 2010
11:48 am

@TechMom -you bring up an excellent point about “hawk” parents. My mother, particularly, was extremely over-protective and hovering. I had one of the old bag phones in my car because she was so freaked out when I turned 16. You know what I learned at an early age? I learned how to lie and be sneaky! Yes, it’s important to be cautious and teach you kids about dangerous situations and how to handle them, but when you are overprotective, your kids will either find a way around it or they’ll become clingy, homebound scaredy cats who see evil in every shadow. Find a balance people! Your kids need to start getting and learning to deal with freedom in small increments that will build up to them understanding how to deal with situations as they grow older. Paranoia never helped anyone.

StayAtHomeMom

April 21st, 2010
12:45 pm

Pervs are EVERYWHERE we live in Roswell and Sunday we were out. They are EVERYWHERE!!

I counted at LEAST 5-10 pervs on the street and in Walmart just planning on attempting a kindnapping or worse on teens. I”m a mom I can just tell.

I spotted one guy walking with a girl and immediately phone the police to report a kidnapping . I’m sure he’d claim he was related to her but you can never be too safe. He’ll think twice about doing that again!!

UF Mom

April 21st, 2010
1:11 pm

DB, you hit the nail on the head!

Today’s generation is VERY narcissistic. Anyone else notice photo after photo of solo shots taken from an extended arm or in a mirror? These kids are in love with themselves and are deluded into thinking everyone else is similarly interested.

They seem to delight in announcing all kinds of things without an internal filter…I have actually “hidden” one of my dear nieces on Facebook because I grew tired of the constant “OMGGG I AM SO BOREDDDDDD” type of posts blasting from her mobile texts. I want to advise her to work on her spelling and grammar if she has nothing better to do!

As a parent, I cannot fathom why kids have all these high tech phones anyways. How about a simple, inexpensive basic cell phone that can call Mom or Dad but not send naked pics or broadcast info to the internet? That alone would nip a lot of these issues in the bud.

jd

April 21st, 2010
1:22 pm

There’s per’s everywhere….just check out crime watch dog and see how many are around your home but no, I don’t think our teens or us as parents should be posting everything we do for our friends or the world to see. I have a facebook for the sole purpose of keeping an eye on my girls but I have to shake my head when I see grown men & women (mostly women) posting every thing under the sun about their family life. Doesn’t anyone value privacy anymore?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 21st, 2010
1:31 pm

Just posted three fun videos from Sesame Street — my feeling is they are aimed more at parents then the kids — parody videos of the Google Ads — What would Cookie Monster search for? What would Bert search for?? and then a bonus of Muppets doing “Bohemian Rhapsody” — very fun!

http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2010/04/21/what-would-cookie-monster-google/

motherjanegoose

April 21st, 2010
1:42 pm

My neighbor told us about Gwinnett Mugs and how you can sign up for a free e-mail post of what is going on in a particular zip code. Amazing what is going on right around the corner, that we had no clue about. It gives you a grasp of what folks have done ( to break the law) in your zip code. My husband gets it everyday and sends it to me when things are close by. We do have a neighborhood watch and live in a COPS neighborhood, not sure how much that helps.

Earl Waters

April 21st, 2010
1:52 pm

Amazing what is going on right around the corner, that we had no clue about.

Yep, absolutely shocking revelations.

Everything from (gasp!) improper lane changes to expired tags. Say it isn’t so!

JJ

April 21st, 2010
2:25 pm

It’s difficult to tell your kids to not talk to strangers, then you chat up a stranger right there in the grocery line…….

Kris

April 21st, 2010
2:35 pm

@DB and UF Mom – amen!!!

motherjanegoose

April 21st, 2010
2:40 pm

@ Earl or DUI’s, drugs and shoplifting….not sure if they even post the things you suggested….

[...] But how long do people think this one will last? Seems to me the new network is also the perfect virtual stomping ground for stalkers or just creepy people in [...]

Marcus

April 28th, 2010
9:49 am

As a single father of two girls and as someone who works in the tech industry, I can appreciate most of this discussion. Personally I’m not a fan of 4square as I don’t think tossing around location info for the sake of games is an especially good idea.

In our family we use echoecho. It’s a very simple and convenient app we use on our iPhones. With the push of a button I can ask, “Where are you” and if accepted on the other end, I’m provided a Google map marked with the other’s location.

It’s essentially the same as a text message or phone call, but faster and less annoying to my girls. At first they didn’t like the idea but we agreed there would be situations where it was alright to ignore my requests.

Now I see them using it with their friends so perhaps it is social, but there is no “social network” it just uses your phones address book/ contact list.

For parents and friends who aren’t scared off by technology when it puts privacy first.
http://m.echoecho.me

Sedgrid

April 29th, 2010
2:53 am

This type of software could be used for flashmobs. Flash Mobs are a group of teen that get together at a random location to make a statement (e.g. 34 high school students laying down around a statue in town). More recently this technology has lead to teens getting together to fight or committ crime. Go to http://www.spyparent.net for more information.

[...] then there is the more conservative/family writers with well-founded and unaddressed [...]