If you thought uploading Instagram stories live from vacation was oversharing, you better sit down for this.
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.
Speaking of anxiety… Should you share your location if you never leave your couch? Asking for a friend.
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