Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Geolocation Check-Ins:A Teenager's Perspective

Many people have expressed concerns over consumer privacy associated with location-based social networking services such as Foursquare, Facebook Places and Latitude. Such concerns are increased with respect to teenagers' use of these services. In order to understand both a teenager's use of such services and the potential privacy implications associated with such use, I have asked my 17 year-old son to begin using some of these services and to periodically update his experiences on this blog. The following is his first installment:

After exploring the many different location based applications such as SCVNGR, Foursquare, Facebook Places, and Latitude, my initial reaction is that these applications are probably not for a teenager like me. They have a lot of different, useful features, but they do not relate, and are not useful, to me. This is mostly because my friends and I rarely go to different restaurants and places, except for fast food and one local sports bar. These applications seem to me to be designed for adults that go to a bunch of different places and try all kinds of new things. For a teenager like me, I am not sure that these apps these apps have any use. For us, it is usually easier to just text or call a friend to let them know where we are going, or invite them to come hang out with us. Also, as I do not believe these services are popular with people my age, if you were to put where you were at or where you were going on one of these apps, it is pretty unlikely that someone you were friends with would see, and even more unlikely that someone you wanted to see where you were would see it.

SCVNGR seems to be the most interesting of all of them because you can play a game, and earn rewards towards getting yourself a discounted meal or towards some other type of reward for the place that you did the “challenges” at. The only problem that I see that could stop this app from being successful is that the place you are going has to have put the place on the app or else that app becomes useless to the person at the place. I do see how these apps could become popular in the future as more people spread the word about them and they become more popular. With a lot of people using them, they could become a very effective tool for people to communicate where they are and what they are doing. You would be able to see where your friends are, see what they are doing, know what places are fun, which ones are good to eat at, or which ones aren’t good at all.

Overall, these apps seem cool to use for people who actually go places, but for a teenager like me, these apps I am not sure they will provide any value.

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