Your Smartphone, Your Kids, and Their Safety
We’re out on a date for the night and our kids are home alone. Here’s our address and a map to our house.
Mom and Dad
That’s ridiculous. No parent would ever say that.
I would never say that.
Except we do it all the time. Sure, we don’t do it intentionally, but the fingerprints we leave on social media do indeed tell the world where we are, what we are doing, how long we’ll be doing it, and how to find the people we care about.
Your Smartphone + Your Location
I love the GPS functionality of my iPhone. It gets me where I need to go, it helps me find what I’m looking for, and it’s completely eliminated my use of a stand-alone GPS device in my car.
But that same functionality, what Apple calls Location Services and Android calls Location Access, can also record and share my exact location at any given moment if I let it. (Within about 10 feet) And that’s great when I’m lost in a National Forest. But it can be a safety hazard when I’m posting on Instagram.
In fact, I find the geotagging of photos to be an obvious safety problem that most parents seem to either not understand or not see as a risk. But your photos’ geotags and/or Exif data can record your exact GPS location. Depending on your phone and your network, that means an innocent picture posted online can publicly post your exact location.
Let’s say someone is paying attention and they are interested in punching me. They can fairly easily find me and my wife online, with minimal digging figure out where we live and where we go. (sorry folks, that’s true for you as well)
Now, if you simply overlay my other activity… say my tweets… with my location, you can pretty quickly tell where I am and what I’m doing.
And that person who wanted to punch me in the face could probably find me and commit that crime. Yeah for them and boo for my nose.
[Note: It’s not just Instagram that does this. Most social apps want to geotag your images, videos, and posts. Why? Simple. They’d like to market to you based on your location.]
What Does This Have to Do With Your Kids?
It’s not a good idea for your kids to post images online that display their exact location. That’s common sense.
Just like we don’t want to broadcast the location of our home on purpose, we want our kids to be careful about what they post. Simply put, we don’t want to accidentally put their safety at risk with geotag info on images, or on apps, etc.
So that’s why the whole family has disabled geotagging of images on our devices cameras as well as become pretty selective of which apps we allow access to our location.
For instance, on my daughters iPhone we only have Location Services activated for Maps and Find My Phone. If she wants to turn on Location Services for another app she’s supposed to ask us.
How Do I Disable My Camera’s Geotagging Features?
Step 1: Go to system settings
Step 2: Click Location Access
Step 3: Determine which applications should have access to your location. (I’d suggest turning it off for your camera.)
iOS7 (iPhone, iPad, iPod)
Step 1: Go to settings
Step 2: Scroll down to Privacy
Step 3: Click on Location Services
Step 4: Adjust your settings per app
Questions about this? Pop on my original blog post and leave me a comment and I’ll do the best I can to help you.
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for parents on his website TheSource4Parents.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.