Location, Location, Location (Services, that is…)

A tech-savvy middle school parent sent me the link to the video at the end of this post. She added a comment: “This is scary. Should I let it upset me?” As of mid-April 2011, according to YouTube, the video has been viewed nearly 2.8 million times

There is nothing quite like the queasy feeling a parent gets when a media outlet airs a story with shrill content that aims to frighten and questions the safety of their children. In this case the report included a solution at the end of the news segment, but by then many viewers were probably too upset to focus. YouTube makes it all so easy, and we can view the segment again and again and then pass it on to others. If each of us had more media literacy skill, we’d hit the stop button, move on to something else, and not even think about forwarding it to our friends.

Specifically, this video addresses two concepts: geotagging and location services on smartphones. Setting aside the anxiety about information revealed by digital pictures, the video highlights a critical digital-age dilemma for parents: how to develop basic knowledge about the digital devices that they purchase for their children. Location service happens to be the current concern, but by the time the next round of must-have gadgets arrives on the scene, another issue will emerge. Knowledge is power.

To preserve a phone owner’s privacy and safety, turn off location services and teach your child to turn on specific apps as needed. New apps request location information when they install, and the default answer is no. My location services are turned on, but I turn off each app individually, except my weather applications. If I need the map or Yellow Page applications, I turn them on, use them, and then turn them off again. Same for Bluetooth and Google. At this time I cannot imagine ever geotagging on my digital photos, but I know enough about technology to understand that things change.

Who would have thought that I’d be constantly carrying a small hand-held personal computer most of the time, one that functions almost like an administrative assistant?

Several Blogs that Provide Information Location Service, Geotagging, and Smartphones

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