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Discussion Topic #6: Understand new features before you use them

Have you heard of the days when people would have to go to an arcade to play a video game and a cell phone was a big clunky thing that could only be used to make a phone call? These days, portable gaming systems make it possible for you to have a virtual arcade in your pocket. Many cell phones can connect to the web and include video cameras, meaning what was once a phone is now a mini broadcast studio.

And it doesn’t stop there. Technology is advancing every day, meaning that there are new products and online features available all the time. And while some of the new features can be fun and useful, some are designed to take or reveal your personal information, so it is important to understand them before you use them.

Take geo-tagging, for example.  Most newer-model smartphones allow geo-tagging  – a  feature that can reveal your location. If you enable the feature, when you take a photo, thanks to GPS technology, it can be tagged with your location. When you post your geo-tagged photo, people can discover where it was snapped. Who can know your location? Anyone you allow to see your photo – and anyone those people share the photo with. It could be friends or family. It could also be teachers, ex boyfriends or girlfriends – and, of course, complete strangers.

Geo-location applications can be helpful, even fun, since they allow you to see, on a map, the exact location a photo was taken. The point is that it’s important to understand what is happening to this important piece of your personal information before you use the application. It is important to think carefully before you tell the world exactly where you are at all times.

And this is an important tip to consider before you use any new piece of technology or online application. Think about the effect it will have on your personal information before you use it. In the case of geotagging, find out exactly what information is being shared and consider if you’re comfortable with that before you use the application.   

For more information, see this article on on how to disable geo-tagging on many smartphones.

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