It’s not uncommon for Gen Z to share their location with their friends using apps like Life360, Find My, and Snapchat (through the Snap Map feature). This trend has become so popular that it’s now common practice for kids in a particular friend group to share their locations indefinitely so they can know where everyone is at all times. While location sharing can sometimes be a battle between parent and kid, it’s the new normal among Gen Z.

As a parent, it’s understandable to feel uneasy about this trend. After all, we didn’t grow up with this as part of our friendships. If your friend didn’t answer their home phone or your IM, that was the end of the story. But our kids can check their friend’s Snapchat, Instagram, BeReal, and their exact location if they don’t get a response.

If you’re feeling concerned about this, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll discuss everything parents need to know about this location-sharing trend, as well as why kids may feel the need to partake. We’ll also share the main concerns parents should know, as well as tips to talk about this with your child. Our aim is to help you understand this trend better and to provide you with the tools to have an open and honest conversation with your child about location sharing.

Why Share Your Location?

Although it might seem a bit peculiar initially, it’s basically the same as how we use social media. We hop onto Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat because it’s enjoyable to check out what our friends are doing. Location apps also allow us to know where our pals are at any moment. This not only adds a fun element but also makes organizing get-togethers much easier. For instance, if you notice that your friend Jesse is at dance practice, you understand that she’s unavailable for a movie at the moment. This way, you can skip texting her and waiting for a response.

Sharing your location with friends serves not only the same purpose as parents tracking their kids but also for safety reasons, especially among college-aged individuals. Whether you’ve been out for the night or are on a date with someone new, knowing that your friend can see your location provides a sense of reassurance that you’ve arrived home safely.

It’s important to mention that youngsters might sense a certain pressure to join in, even if they’re not genuinely interested, just because it’s a popular trend. Opting out of location sharing could be perceived as offensive or even viewed as a betrayal by friends. Consequently, it’s understandable that kids may decide to share their location to sidestep any potential tension with their friends.

What Are the Possible Dangers of Location Sharing?

Privacy violations The primary worry associated with this trend revolves around privacy. Revealing your location is among the riskier pieces of personal information if it falls into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, convincing kids to share their location has been a common grooming tactic observed in the past. That’s why it’s crucial for kids to understand the importance of never disclosing their location, the school they attend, or any other location-specific details online.

Even sharing location with friends poses potential privacy concerns. Social media has already blurred the lines of what personal information is suitable for others to know, and this trend further exemplifies that challenge. Particularly with kids, they might lack the maturity to discern which friends can be genuinely trusted with such sensitive information. On the other side of the coin, kids may not be responsible enough to handle that information responsibly.

Drama inducer Location sharing has the potential to fuel unnecessary drama among friends, either by exacerbating existing tensions or by creating new ones. Whether intentional or unintentional, sharing locations can be highly exclusionary and a significant source of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Kids might find themselves in a situation where they see all their friends hanging out at a particular place, only to realize they weren’t invited.

Even if it’s not about FOMO, constant knowledge of a friend’s location can lead to various dramatic scenarios. There’s a plethora of assumptions that can arise from knowing where someone is at a given time. For example, if you discover that your friend is in the neighborhood of your crush, it could either be your worst fear or absolutely inconsequential. Suddenly, you find yourself worrying about something that, without this piece of information, would have been a non-issue.

How Do I Talk To My Kid About This?

These concerns might make sense to you, but they might not resonate with teenagers. During the teenage years, friendships often take precedence, making it logical for them to want to share everything with their friends. However, as parents, it’s our responsibility to watch out for their blind spots and equip them with the tools to navigate potential pitfalls.

A good approach is to initiate a conversation with questions. Ask them why they believe sharing their location with friends is important. Explore whether they genuinely want to do it or if they feel pressured. Frame these questions not as an interrogation, but as a means to help them understand the motivations behind their actions.

Following that, you can express your concerns and explain why you believe location sharing may not be in their best interest. It’s likely that they won’t immediately see things from your perspective, so be prepared to have the conversation multiple times until they start recognizing the potential issues on their own.