Geolocation services or creeping?


I have mixed feelings about the rise of geolocation services. As the parent of a 12-year old girl I am faced with a dilemma:  Do I buy a cell phone for my daughter who will be entering middle school in Fall 2013? A few years ago I thought that it was ludicrous to buy a cell phone for a child under age 15. But, I have changed my mind based on the responses of other tween parents. Here are some reasons why a tween needs a (smart) phone:

  • There are no pay phones at school or anywhere else in the community.
  • The closest middle school is 6.7 miles from our neighborhood.
  • Kids need some type of Internet access as a tool for school work – purchasing a smart phone will serve this need and provide a phone.
  • I can use the location service to keep tabs on my child’s whereabouts.

Creeping on Facebook

Part of me thinks that location-based services are bad because they make it too easy for people (especially young, naïve people) to give away too much personal information to strangers. Another part of me realizes that people must accept their responsibility to read Terms of Agreement and Privacy Information notices prior to accepting the Terms of Use for anything – and especially before enabling location services.  As a parent and an educator I believe that information literacy is a vital skill. Every day I observe the geolocation habits of high school students. In short, they want their friends to know where they are (Coachella Festival this weekend!) and don’t want any adults to know where they are. Teens know how to disable the location services on devices with GPS to prevent parents or creepers from knowing where they are.  It is the responsibility of educators and parents to teach students the skills that can be categorized as part of 21st century skills and information literacy.

Information Literacy

Association of College and Research Libraries: a division of the American Library Association. (2011, June). Information literacy for faculty and administrators. Retrieved from

Federal Communications Commission. (n.d.) Children’s Internet Protection Act. Retrieved from

Foote, A. (2010, October 20). Four geolocation trends to watch. Retrieved from

Lunden, I. (2012, March 1). Tipping point: smartphone owners now outnumber other mobile users in the U.S..  Retrieved from

Creeping on Facebook. Retrieved from

Geolocation on smart phone. Retrieved from

Information literacy cat. Retrieved from


4 thoughts on “Geolocation services or creeping?

  1. I agree with you about some of the geolocation sites. Sometimes I think they can be a little creepy, especially for young women and girls. Sharing this type of information with peers can be okay, but I can’t help but think about predators and how these types of services can be abused by them. I am not at all for any type of censorship; I just think parents need to be aware of what’s out there and monitor how their children uses these sites.

  2. I think you are right when you say that we need to educate our students and children on 21st century technology. I’m not sure that there is an absolute right or wrong beyond that when deciding on getting a teen a smart phone. Ask the mother who can’t find her daughter and she will say she wishes her daughter’s phone had geo-location. But ask the mother of a girl who was bullied or stalked and she will say that she wishes she never had that! My son’s are almost 15 and 18. No smart phones, but they are both almost 6′ tall so it’s way different for me.
    This is why parents need to be as technologically smart as their kids. We need to be the ones who teach, not just react.
    Good thoughts!

  3. Great points in the post & comments. Schools should not ban devices during school hours but utilize them (BYOD) for teaching and learning and a big dose of digital citizenship instruction…

  4. I actually love the idea of BYOD to school. I think that most teens have a smart phone, and two out of three of my kids do. My youngest, 14 boy, does not. He lost two phones and needs to prove himself before I am willing to pay a monthly fee for it. I think schools utilizing the BYOD to school will reap the rewards. Mostly the need to not have to provide as much technology to every student The more they bring, the less the school needs to supply. Including the Internet.

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