Summary: The cellular technology that allows our mobile phones to track our location, stream our videos, and locate family and friends nearby, also allows us to be located. So, what’s actually happening with the devices we depend on every day? Your every move can be monetized.
The evolution of the cell phone is amazing. It’s now a common assumption that everyone has a smartphone in their pocket — everywhere they go. And how incredible are these devices?! We can connect to the internet anywhere, find our location on a map, and look up information. But, it’s important to understand that while we access so much through our phones, we can also be accessed unwittingly.
The same cellular technology that allows our phones to find our location, stream our videos, and locate family and friends nearby, also allows us to be found. As with all technology, it’s important to understand what’s actually happening with the devices we depend on every day.
Your computer is also saving and sharing your data through your IP address, the websites you visit, and your clicks. But the phones we carry with us also know our detailed physical location on the move throughout the day — if you allow them to.
As a result, you may notice some ads that seem a little too on the nose. Maybe you went shopping this weekend, and now you’re getting promotions or discounts offered for the accessories you looked at. This is an illustration of how your movements are being tracked and that your information is being monetized.
How do I hide my location on my phone?
There are ways to limit access to your private information. You can switch your phone to airplane mode when you don’t need to be connected — and don’t want to be tracked — but that may not be the most practical solution for everyday use.
Turning off location tracking
You have the option to turn off location tracking on your phone instead of automatically allowing it. Take time to look at the location tracking settings for each app you have and turn off the “always allow tracking” option for most, if not all, of your apps. But any time you are connected to a WiFi network or have your Bluetooth enabled, you could also be tracked. And the big iOS 14 update changes everything about tracking for iPhones including location services.
But maybe you want location-specific coupons, such as 10% off your purchase for just walking into a store. That’s up to you to make an educated choice where you calculate the risk (giving up your past purchase history and location) for the reward (an immediate discount).
You have the option to turn off location tracking on your phone instead of automatically allowing it.
Being aware of what’s happening with our technology and staying ahead of the risks allows us to make informed decisions. We all love our cell phones – and with good reason – but they are still computers, and more importantly, they are still accessible devices. If we treat them as the liability that they are, we can keep our information protected, and our ads perhaps even slightly less specific!
Try asking your kids how they feel about being tracked by companies and individuals they don’t know. When may this be appropriate? When is being tracked completely inappropriate? Having these conversations will help your family determine how comfortable they are using technology and how their privacy is impacted.
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