Tracking your location? Knowing where someone is at all times? This is starting to feel like the plot to a “Black Mirror” episode! Location-sharing technology is a recent phenomenon that raises a lot of questions and concerns, especially in regards to having your exact whereabouts made public. Most of our experiences with location sharing relates back to our parents tracking our every move. The real question is, though, why are students so eager to share their locations… and with whom?

At first, it was parents that wanted to be able to see where their kids were at all times. Now, upon coming to college, the real reason behind location-sharing has been revealed: safety. As young adults living away from home, it’s important that students have an extra source of security. We all bring our phones everywhere, and there is no doubt that this generation feels naked without their phones. These built-in location-sharing features are just another way for users to stay safe and also be able to see where their friends are.

Apple’s “Find My Friends” / Source: Caroline Brauckmann

Nowadays, most iPhones provide location-sharing features. Apple’s “Find My” is one of them. This app comes pre-downloaded onto iPhones. It is completely free and automatically links your contacts to the app. You can request or share your location with any of your contacts with just a few taps. Users can pick and choose who sees their location, so no unwanted contacts can view it. Who would you want to have access to your location, though? All of our interviewees stated their main priority is security and safety. Most chose to share their location with friends and roommates at St. Joe’s so they know where each other is at any given time. If something did happen, say a car broke down somewhere, even if their phone dies and you can not contact them, with one tap on the “Find My” app you will be able to see their last known location and how long ago they were there. In response to the question, “Why do you share your location?” The most common response was “So [they] know I’m safe.”

Snapchat’s “Snap Maps” / Source: Caroline Brauckmann

The main concern between all participants is safety and that’s exactly what these apps are designed for. Interviewees stated that the most common apps they use are Find My, Life360, and Snapchat. There are countless survival stories that have come from Apple products’ location-sharing features. If we all have our phones anyway it only takes a few more taps to give us an extra sense of security. You can never be too careful, especially as a college student, and for those at St. Joe’s, especially in Philadelphia. Most of you all have come across or heard of “Find My,” however it could potentially have a bad connotation. When I realized my parents could do this I thought how is this even possible and wished I grew up in the 80’s so I could be free. I even thought to myself, why do my parents want my location? Do they not trust me? After learning how to use this technology with my friends and little brother, I realized that my parents’ main concern was only safety which aligns with my concerns as well. Students are using these new features in recent technology updates to ensure their family and friends safety.

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