“Where are you?” That’s the way the vast majority of mobile calls and texts start — and it’s the question parents always ask of their t(w)eens. Parents have a frenetic need to always know “where” their children are. Unlike the era before the mobile phone parents now have a better sense of where their children are. Recent studies by Pew Internet & American Life Project show that the supermajority of teens have mobile phones.
Many parents simply call their children and ask them where they are. While teens use mobile phones, they seldom use them to speak. Asking a teen to “answer” or pick up a call may be a tall order. You will need to learn how to text “where R U?” if you want a more prompt response.
Some wireless carriers offer parents GPS location tracking services for their children’s phones. Now, smartphones contain a growing array of Apps that can be used by parents to quickly locate their children.
A really interesting and easy App that parents can use is called Glympse (available on iPhone, Android and Windows 7). Glympse is an App that allows t(w)eens to quickly send to their parents a glympse of where they are on a map. Unlike other location tracking tools, Glympse allows users to send a short duration peak at where they are. After the specified period of time is over the other person can no longer view the location of the user — it simply times out. We think this is a very effective privacy feature. Check out the “What is Glympse” page for a helpful video.
Of course there are some caveats. Keep in mind that parents should use tools like Glympse responsibly and realize that they are not foolproof. Parents should explain to their children why they want them to check in with their location (who knows, kids may rather send a Glympse than a text message or, heaven forbid, actually talk on the phone). Further, never ask your teen to initiate a Glympse or text while they are driving a car. And lastly, use this conversation as an opportunity to talk to your children about your concerns with their sharing their location information with people they don’t know or don’t trust. We are generally concerned with the amount of uninformed location sharing that is being done on social networking sites and mobile phones.