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Is location sharing good for kids?

The "greatest"? Really? What's so great about it? Check out the story I just posted about suicide and social media(link below) This crap is like any other addictive substance.

BTW: If you can't beat em, join em. The Spritzler Report now offers location sharing. You can track my movements 24/7/365. You? I don't care what you're doing. It's all about ME.

Why Teens Say Location Sharing Is the Greatest—and the Worst

They can see when they’re being excluded in real-time by tracking each other on apps

By Julie Jargon, WSJ

May 6, 2023 9:00 am ET

Years ago, teens worried about who was hanging out without them. Today, teens know it for sure.

Addison Figel was at home on a Saturday night last month when she decided to see what everyone else was up to. She opened Snapchat and checked the Snap Map, which shows where friends are in real time. A group of them was at another girl’s house attending a birthday party.

Addison, a 16-year-old in Belle Mead, N.J., knew about the party, and that she wasn’t invited. Still, it stung seeing how many people were there.

Teens frequently share their location with friends, whether on Snapchat or Apple’s Find My or Life360, to locate each other at concerts or see if anyone they know is nearby when they’re out. Location sharing has become such a fixture that many teens say they’d be overlooked socially if they didn’t use it.

But painful feelings can set in after learning they’re left out. Common Sense Media in March published a report on teen girls’ views on social media. In it, 45% of the surveyed girls said that location sharing had a negative effect on them.

Many teens say location sharing can make them self-conscious about where they live and where they go. Some fear being stalked. Yet, by far the biggest cause of anxiety, they say, is knowing when they’re missing out.

The already-acute youth mental-health crisis has worsened since the pandemic. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has called it “the defining public-health crisis of our time” and said social-media companies haven’t done enough to address the mental health of their youngest users.

Snapchat parent Snap told investors in January that more than 300 million people globally used Snap Map every month.

“The Snap Map was built to help people spend time with their friends in real life, and has become a useful tool for meeting up and learning about the world,” the spokeswoman says, adding that the optional location-sharing setting is off by default and can easily be turned on or off. Users can decide which friends can see them. Strangers are unable to see users’ locations, and users can mute friends they don’t want to see on a map.

‘Narcissism of adolescence’

Today’s teens and young adults have grown up being tracked. Parents check their grades in real time, watch how fast they’re driving and monitor them even after they leave for college. Asking a friend to share their location, then, is no big deal.

“It just feels like the norm,” says Addison.

When friend-tracking affects emotions, though, why not switch it off? Doing so would make them socially invisible, many teens say.

Location sharing is part of the “narcissism of adolescence,” says Devorah Heitner, a digital-culture researcher and author of “Growing Up in Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World.”

“Everyone wants to feel they matter at that age,” she says.

Addison and other teens say they can shrug it off when they see a photo or video of friends gathered without them, posted after the fact. Witnessing exclusion in real time hits differently.

“With Snap Map, you can keep checking and see when people come and go,” Addison says, adding that it’s hard to put the phone down and focus on other things.

Ellie Fenton-Sutliff, a 17-year-old from Sacramento, Calif., says thoughts can spiral quickly when something is happening without you.

Ellie Fenton-Sutliff took part in a recent school debate about whether social-media companies should be held accountable for teen well-being.

“It becomes, ‘Well, they had to plan that get-together, so there’s a group chat I’m not in, and if there’s a group chat I’m not in, why was I not in it, and were they talking bad about me in it?’” she says. (Group-chat exclusion is also a problem for teens).

Ellie, who leads youth engagement for #HalfTheStory, a digital well-being nonprofit, says teens feel pressure to share their location. “You feel obligated to do it even though you know it’s not good for you,” she says.

Ahmed Othman, a 16-year-old adviser with #HalfTheStory, says he’s seen friends jump to conclusions when they see others gathered without them. “The overthinking is what leads to detrimental mental health,” says the Wakefield, Mass., teen.

He no longer shares his Snap Map location. “I want to trust my friends and know they wouldn’t purposely exclude me,” he adds.

‘A light-switch dimming’

Addison’s parents say they recently noticed a change in her demeanor after she checked the Snap Map.

“It was like a light-switch dimming. She’d suddenly go from being cheerful to being in a bad mood. When I asked what she saw, it was usually that her friends had gone somewhere without her,” says her mom, Lisa Figel. “It impacted her concentration and her ability to do homework.”

The Figels decided to place a daily one-hour limit on Snapchat through the settings on Addison’s phone. Addison had previously been spending two hours a day on the app.

Addison says she’s not ready to stop using the Snap Map, though she recognizes what it’s doing to her.

“It’s really changed my mood to see people together,” she says. “It just makes me feel sad.”

—For more Family & Tech columns, advice and answers to your most pressing family-related technology questions, sign up for my weekly newsletter.

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