Privacy, who? Gen Z is sharing its location

Location-sharing tech is becoming more popular as young people look to stay safe and stay connected.

If you thought uploading Instagram stories live from vacation was oversharing, you better sit down for this.

The back view of five young people all wearing backpacks and walking with location pin graphics hovering over their heads on a rainbow background.

Gen Zers are uploading more than just photos — they want their friends, and even their parents, to know exactly where they are at all times.

So they’re using location-sharing technology to make their whereabouts public.

After Google Maps launched location sharing back in 2017, similar offerings followed:

  • Apple’s Find My feature comes in handy for the 50%+ of Americans who use iPhones.
  • Family tracking app Life360, which has doubled its US downloads since 2021, now has 33m+ monthly active users in the US and 20m internationally.
  • Snapchat’s real-time tracking feature on its Snap Map lets users follow their friends’ locations.

Plus, GPS-enabled smartwatches mean that young people can be tracked even without their phones.

It’s one part safety…

… and one part social.

Today’s youths are using tracking to quiet anxieties about worst-case scenarios — e.g., on first dates, late-night walks, or unaccompanied errand runs.

But beyond fear, users lean on tech to feel more connected to friends — emotionally and physically — with the hashtag #findmyfriends racking up 48m+ views on TikTok.

This could have real benefits for businesses…

… which are always searching for their target customers.

  • Businesses could send customized promotions to people physically nearby, drawing in customers.
  • Location tracking gives businesses valuable information about customer habits, schedules, and needs.

The catch, though, is pretty clear: Location sharing comes with a host of risks, from FOMO and hurt feelings to much darker dangers like stalking and abuse.

While all this might seem extreme…

… to those of us who spent our youths climbing out of windows and tiptoeing through garages to evade our parents, Gen Z grew up in a different world.

Not only were they raised with constant tech and social media use being the norm, they also face unique anxieties.

Speaking of anxiety… Should you share your location if you never leave your couch? Asking for a friend.

Topics: Technology Apps

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