Who is Tracking Your Student?

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Who is Tracking Your Student?

November 11, 2021

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What is digital tracking?

  • Predators are finding ways to track the physical location of students using devices, like the Apple AirTags, for human trafficking or other dangerous purposes
  • Strangers can follow a user’s social media apps with location information like Snapchat to physically find other users
  • Users often do not know predators are following them with these hidden devices or continually shared information via the apps

Why should parents & educators care?

  • Bluetooth and GPS enabled devices are present in many types of smart devices and apps on smartphones
  • Students may not understand why or how strangers track them with these devices or how their personal safety is at risk when they share, or do not turn off, location information on social media apps
  • Stalkers or predators may track other users for days to learn their routines, such as when they are in vulnerable situations, like being alone at night 
  • Many of the tracking devices, like Tile or Apple AirTags, are inexpensive and have a long battery life, so they might not have immediate consequences, but could be found later 
  • Tracking devices can take just a second to drop into a student’s backpack or purse, or attach to their car in any public environment
  • The built-in sounds on the devices that are intended to serve as warnings are not very loud and someone may not hear it if it is outside their vehicle or if they do not know to be looking for something suspicious
  • While iPhones will detect and alert users if an AirTag is near them, Android users will not receive those warnings

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Green Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
We believe this app is a STARTING POINT for your student, but that you must monitor your student on every app they are on. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Gray Zone

Parents and Teachers: Please note this app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe.
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Red Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone. We believe this app is not safe for students to use without adult supervision. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Dangerous Social media challenges

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge. Knowing about social media challenges before your teen does can help you keep them safe before an incident occurs. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Table of Contents

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Smartphones, Bluetooth, and GPS technology devices (like Apple AirTags) have been created with the intention of helping us in our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, predators and bullies have learned ways to use the features of these devices to target unknowing suspects, like our teens and tweens. 

Parents and students must stay aware of their surroundings and know what to look for to determine if they are being tracked. It is also critical to understand what information students are sharing about their real-time locations through apps they use every day. 

Parent & educator training video

What is digital tracking?

  • Predators are finding ways to track the physical location of students using devices, like the Apple AirTags, for human trafficking or other dangerous purposes
  • Strangers can follow a user’s social media apps with location information like Snapchat to physically find other users
  • Users often do not know predators are following them with these hidden devices or continually shared information via the apps

Digital tracking in the news

CBS News: Apple AirTags "terrifyingly good" at tracking stuff-and potentially helping stalkers
The problem is someone could slip one of these into your bag, or into your car or some other belonging of yours, without you knowing it.

CBS News

ABC 13 Eyewitness News: Crime Tip Tuesday: Apple's new product "AirTag" has some concerned
The problem is people who use the AirTag’s to slip into a woman’s purse at a bar or a child’s belongings.

ABC News 13, Houston, Texas

The United States Attorney's Office District of Oregon: Beaverton Man Charged with Child Explotation Crimes After Stalking and Exploiting Minor Using Social Media
This case demonstrates the extraordinary lengths sexual predators will go to victimize children.

United States Attorney's Office District of Oregon

Net Nanny: Snapchat's Newest Features is a Location Nightmare for Parents
Broadcasting your location puts users at risk for stalkers, bullies, predators and stranger danger, it almost encourages location spying on your friends, acquaintances and loved ones. Also… strangers. Yes, anyone who follows you on Snapchat could potentially have access to your location – and not just in confusing coordinates, but on a local map that gives detail down to the street.

Net Nanny

Why should parents & educators care?

  • Bluetooth and GPS enabled devices are present in many types of smart devices and apps on smartphones
  • Students may not understand why or how strangers track them with these devices or how their personal safety is at risk when they share, or do not turn off, location information on social media apps
  • Stalkers or predators may track other users for days to learn their routines, such as when they are in vulnerable situations, like being alone at night 
  • Many of the tracking devices, like Tile or Apple AirTags, are inexpensive and have a long battery life, so they might not have immediate consequences, but could be found later 
  • Tracking devices can take just a second to drop into a student’s backpack or purse, or attach to their car in any public environment
  • The built-in sounds on the devices that are intended to serve as warnings are not very loud and someone may not hear it if it is outside their vehicle or if they do not know to be looking for something suspicious
  • While iPhones will detect and alert users if an AirTag is near them, Android users will not receive those warnings

What can parents & educators do?

  • Continue discussions about “stranger danger” even for tweens and teens, including not friending people on social media whom they don’t personally know in real life
  • If your family uses tracking apps to keep in communication with each other, frequently check the settings to ensure who can see each user’s location 
Apple AirTag example
  • With your students, look at the location settings in their apps, like Snapchat, that share active location information. Talk about who could use that information and the real dangers of strangers, or “friends” they only know online, finding them
  • Parents can help students conduct routine vehicle inspections for overall car safety (like tire pressure, oil levels, etc.) and include looking for anything suspicious like an Apple AirTag hidden behind a license plate
  • Take any AirTag notification from Apple seriously 
  • ~If you do not recognize the AirTag being identified, talk with a parent or trusted adult to help locate and remove the tag. Trusted adults should consider reporting a found tracking device to local law enforcement 
  • If your family does not have Apple smartphone products, consider asking a friend who does to go for a ride with your family to the next sporting or community event to watch for unknown AirTag notifications
  • Talk with your students about how to be aware of their surroundings and what to do if they feel that they are being followed by another vehicle, including:
  • ~Keep calm
  • ~Go to where people are, such as a public shopping area that is well lit if at night
  • ~Call the police and follow the directions of the 911 operator
  • ~Learn more tips of what to do if you think you’re being followed from our friends at safewise

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Snapchat App Guide: What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

Life360 App Guide for Parents (Track Your Kids)

Conclusion

Tracking your student’s location with their smartphones or using Bluetooth chips to keep tabs on keys or easily lost items might be beneficial for families, but these technologies can be used against your family in the wrong hands. Being aware of your surroundings and the dangers of location sharing settings are smart ways to keep students safe online and in person.

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