“It’s ten o’clock… do you know where your children are?” Ã‚Â In the days before mobile phones and text messaging, that was a line in a frequently broadcast Public Service Announcement. Ã‚Â Even in our connected world today, as parents we still DO want to know where our children are… all the time. Ã‚Â Now we have the advantage of calling or texting our kids (assuming they are of “phone age” – which is getting younger and younger by the year). I recently discovered another way we can use our smartphones to “check in” with our kids.
Geek Chic, And Fun For Parents Too
One of the companies rising in popularity amongst the tech crowd is Foursquare, a mobile social network that cleverly leverages location based information and gaming elements to keep friends in touch and make exploring the cities you live in and visit more fun. Ã‚Â Using the mobile web or an app for your iPhone, Android, or Palm WebOS phone, Foursquare makes it easy to “check in” at any location you are at. Ã‚Â When you check in, your location (and a short “shout out” message) is broadcast to your Foursquare friends in the same city (and, optionally, to your Twitter or Facebook account). In addition to knowing where all your friends are, as you “check in” to different venues and locations, you earn points and badges on your way to becoming the “Mayor” (person with the most visits) of a particular location. Ã‚Â I recently added my own twist to Foursquare by introducing my son Zach to the program.
It’s Ten O’Clock And I Do Know Where My Children Are
Zach has an iPhone so I encouraged him to get the and sign up for an account, which he did. Zach commutes to college and works most nights at a restaurant. Ã‚Â He has a very busy schedule and though we live in the same house we are rarely home at the same time. Ã‚Â I often call or text him “where are you?” just to check in and make sure I know that he is ok. Now, with both of us using Foursquare, I know when he has arrived at school and when he gets to work in the evening. Ã‚Â At the same time, he knows where I am, and Zach said he enjoyed following my movements and felt more connected than usual during my recent trip to Las Vegas for the iPhone appCES show, as Foursquare let him virtually follow me around the convention.
Responsibility And Trust
Foursquare is not a tracking program, and if you are looking for a way to passively keep track of your kid’s movements, this is not the answer. Ã‚Â In order for your location to be broadcast to your friends with Foursquare you have to actively check in at each place you want to share. Ã‚Â It is completely opt-in and not automatic. Ã‚Â On the other hand, if your child has a smartphone and you are looking for a fun way to get them to let you know where they are, and build a sense of responsibility and trust along the way, playing Foursquare could be a lot of fun and functional.
What do you think? Ã‚Â Would you use a game like Foursquare to help stay in touch with your kids, or am I just an old geek?
Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).Ã‚Â He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.Ã‚Â You can see more of JeffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.