Foursquare

What It Is:
Foursquare is a social networking app for mobile devices that allows users to “check in” to various locations and receive “rewards points” for doing so.

What It Does:
Foursquare gives registered users the opportunity to post locations they are visiting in order to connect with friends and receive points that can accrue and earn users rewards. You can also connect your Foursquare account to your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts to increase the social activity.

Foursquare mainly focuses on entertainment locations like restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues, and, depending on the database they’ve compiled from other users, can determine via your mobile device’s GPS where you are located and recommend Foursquare locations in your area that you might want to visit.

Would My Child Want It?:
If your child is socially active and spends a lot of time visiting various service establishments, there is a high likelihood they would want to use Foursquare.

Where Can It Be Used?:
Since Foursquare is all about getting out and about town, it is primarily used on mobile devices. While there is a Foursquare website, it is more about finding destinations ahead of time instead of while on the town.

What Should I Watch Out For?:

  • Social interaction is minimal but is still possible.
  • Since Foursquare broadcasts your location to the internet, it can enable stalking.
  • While telling the internet where you are, Foursquare inadvertently tells you where you aren’t (making your home vulnerable to theft, etc.).
  • Data mining.

What Are The Positives?: 

  • If you live in a big city with many entertainment options, Foursquare can help you find what you like.
  • Earning points can be a fun way to interact with friends, though there is no tangible reward to be gained beyond bragging rights.

What Are The Negatives?:

  • Strictly focused on “going out,” therefore reinforcing the subtle concept that consumerism and empty gatherings are the best ways to have fun.
  • Allows others to know your whereabouts, meaning you can have encounters with those you’d rather not see.

What We Think:
When used within its design parameters, Foursquare can be fun for independent, mature, and upwardly mobile users. We leave it to you to decide whether that describes your child or not. As usual, we recommend that, if you allow your child to use Foursquare, you also use it to keep up with the ways it can affect them.