CAN A GPS TRACKING APPLICATION MAKE CHILDREN MORE VULNERABLE TO CHILD TRAFFICKING?
A new feature was recently rolled out on one of the newer social media applications, Snap Chat, called Snap Map. This feature, if utilized, has the ability to show a user’s exact location on an interactive map every time the app is used and/or can show where a large group of people are gathering. A previous blog entitled “The Latest Fad: Pokemon Go” discussed the specific safety concerns inherent upon using an application with GPS location features which would show your exact location in the game.
Snap Chat, for instance, is an app utilized by many younger people, with a large percentage of those users being under the age of 25. A primary reason that younger people use this app is due to the fact that their parents and/or adults do not tend to use this app as frequently as some other social media sites. Clearly, one concern over the use of Snap Map would be the potential for criminal acts resulting from the use of this new feature which pinpoints a user’s exact location. There is an option in the app to disengage from this service and/or to opt out of the service, and it would seem like sound advice for any parent monitoring their children’s social media usage to ensure that this feature is not being utilized by their child.
This newest feature of Snap Map raised concerns to me after recently attending a very informative seminar on child trafficking at the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association Annual Meeting, in which I learned the ways in which social media can be utilized to prey upon children that appear to be more vulnerable by way of their social media usage. At this seminar, I learned that the State of Connecticut has rising instances of child trafficking, and that this state is surprisingly a hot spot for child trafficking by virtue of being situated between larger cities such as Boston and New York. These traffickers prey on younger individuals that show any signs of vulnerability online, and a feature such as Snap Map has the potential risk of contributing to those concerns by giving out the exact location of your child if this feature is not otherwise disengaged. As more and more children are utilizing these social media sites, and particularly ones that may not be used by their parents, it is imperative for parental supervision to remain in effect and for parents to remain vigilant in order to ensure that all applications are being used by their children in a safe and responsible manner.