Mappen is known as the Instagram for kids under 13, a place where they share pictures, their locations, and other information. The developers describe it as an app that “helps you plan your social life by showing you where friends are and what they’re doing so you can get together.”
For example, it will show if you’re at the mall, or at a restaurant, then if other kids want to meet up they’ll be able to do so by checking the app to see where you are. Sounds pretty cool right?
According to the developers, this is what Mappen is all about;
Mappen or, “Make Something Happen”
SEE WHERE FRIENDS ARE AND MEET UP
Mappen helps you plan your social life by showing you where friends are and what they’re doing so you can get together.
ADD PLACES TO YOUR MAP
Personalize your map with all your favorite places and check out places your friends like to eat, hang out and play. Add a note to each place so friends know why you love it.
Only friends you add can see you on the map. Add friends you know IRL and you can stop sharing at any moment.
Show friends what you’re doing with two taps, and see what everyone else is up to. Update your emoji status so friends know if they should hit you up, text you to meet up for food, or drop by while you’re watching Netflix.
Tap “React” on a friend and send one of 6 emoji reactions to your friend to let them know you’re thinking about them.
KEEP YOUR FRIENDS SAFE
Friends should look out for each other. Check your map after getting together to see that friends got home safe.
KIM IS NEARBY!
We’ll let you know when your best friend is getting close so you two can meet up.
GO INVISIBLE ANYTIME
Go “invisible” to hide your location when you need extra privacy. You can choose to hide from one friend or everybody depending on the situation.
– Get alerts when friends are nearby
– Get alerts when friends visit your favorite places
– Surprises! We’ve hidden a game in Mappen you can play with friends”
The idea behind the app looks like an attempt to get kids to hang out with each other, live and in person. That is a fantastic idea given that this generation spends about half as much time in person with their friends as previous generations have. The consequences of which are obvious when it comes to social skills which develop as a result of spending time in live social settings.
So what is the problem?
Using this app means that your child’s location services are always turned on. Law enforcement officials are constantly warning parents about leaving location on as it opens the door for predators to easily locate your child.
If you choose to set the app’s location services to only track when the app is in use, you are not able to post updates to your status. This is the most attractive part of Mappen and exactly why teens and tweens would want to use it.
Also, if your child turns off the GPS tracking on the app for privacy, or to hide from their friends, it automatically will turn back on after 8 hours.
While the app claims to be safe, Mappen cannot determine which user profiles are those of actual children and which ones are predators with fake profiles. This is of obvious concern because once your child accepts a request, their new friend can access where they are and where they’ve been. Predator or friend?
It is virtually impossible for parents to stay on top of every new social media app that hits the market, which is why using Social Judo is smart. Whenever your child downloads a new app, you will get an alert in real-time, sent to your phone, that will let you know which app your child started using. You then can choose to research the app, delete it if necessary, or just have a conversation with your child about it if you, as a parent think it is appropriate for their use.
Parenting today requires a much different approach. You can be smarter and your kids need you to be.
Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.