It seems everyone is jumping on the location-based bandwagon, these days. But the big question has always been whether Foursquare is right for parents.
For me, the answer is yes, but the safety issue is key. This is where some common sense and some self-protection comes into play.
1. Manage Your Foursquare Friends Carefully
In some ways, I think of Twitter as the whole wide world, Facebook is a closer set of friends, and Foursquare is people you would like to see in person, at any moment of the day. You do not have accept anyone and everyone into your Foursquare, even if you “know” them online. Think carefully before clicking OK.
2. Check In Carefully
In other words, don’t check in at home. Don’t check in at your child’s school. Don’t check in anywhere that could lead people to a place you don’t want to be found. I know it’s tempting to be mayor of “Aimee’s Domain” but I’m not sure it’s worth it.
3. Broadcast Carefully
Not only is is annoying to see a Facebook or Twitter stream full of only Foursquare check-ins, you are leaving a trail for the public world to follow. If you are alone with the kids, consider checking in as you are leaving the restaurant. Keep the default setting for Twitter and Facebook sharing off, and only send there when it is something big, like the U2 tour that everyone across the country is attending along with you.
Also, think about what you are saying when you broadcast a check in publicly; vacations and dinner out are often described as ways of saying your home is unattended.
4. Don’t Freak Out!
Some of the things I mention above may seem scary, but that doesn’t mean you should delete your Foursquare app forever. If you are thoughtful with your choices, you are not going to be stalked by anyone other than your friends (who you like!) or be taken advantage of.
Remember: people had similar reactions to the answering machine when it arrived in the 80’s — “They will know I am not home! Robbers will come and rip us off!” Look how far we’ve come. –Aimee