“Checking in”, (sharing your current location using geolocation services and adding a photo, video or status), has become common practice on social networks. Just like tagging friends or expressing moods with an emoji, location is just another way to make a new post more attractive for followers. Kids and teens will do just about anything to get people to like, share or comment on their social media posts.
While it might be harmless for children to use geolocation to let their followers know where they are, sharing their exact location with the whole world isn’t a good idea. Without the right privacy settings in place, there’s no guarantee that the information about your children’s location will not fall into the hands of cyberbullies, stalkers or even cybercrooks.
There are a few things parents can do to make sure their kids are safe when using social media. What probably matters the most is for children to know the risks of oversharing. Your kids probably already know about the general idea of digital privacy. Chat with them and find out how much they know – you might even learn a thing or two.
To avoid inappropriate location sharing, teach your children to keep the GPS function on their mobile phone or tablet turned off. It should only be turned on when needed for directions using maps or to send their location to a friend they’re about to meet, for example.
Even with GPS turned off there are ways a child can unwittingly disclose their location. A photo from a recognisable location or even a description of the location is enough to cause problems. Children should learn how to protect their profiles by using the right privacy settings on their social network accounts, avoid oversharing and limit the visibility of their posts to family and friends.
Sit down with your son or daughter and review their current privacy settings. Make sure the content they share can only be seen by the intended recipients. For a more selective approach, some social networking sites allow you to create separate groups for close friends, family or acquaintances. The appropriate group can be chosen for each new post.
Also keep in mind that as a parent, you are the most likely to influence your children’s opinions and habits. Therefore, try to be a good role model – stick to the same rules that you ask your kids to abide by. Practice what you preach!