FARGO-MOORHEAD — Yvonnah, Ben, and Madelyn are getting ready for fall college classes. They just finished at Fargo South High School, and like most of their friends, use SnapChat.
"It has always been a thing to see how many people are on your Snap Map or how many you have on Snapchat," said Madelyn. "It is sometimes like a gloating thing."
Snapchat is one of the most popular apps to communicate with hundreds of friends who at any given moment can be found on the app's Snap Map.
"I use it to see if someone is at the place I am at," said Ben. "I was at the fair, and I was wondering if there was anyone here that I know."
"I have always heard, 'Don't have it on,'" said Madelyn. "We have always had that talk to turn it off and not leaving it on for certain people, because it is scary it is to let anyone random know where you are."
WDAY News looked at Snap Maps from Madelyn, Ben and Yvonnah, and the map showed their friends' locations for all to see.
"It is crazy someone is that motivated to take you or whatever," said Ben.
But these three young adults know the risk of having your location public, all the time, and some of them have turned that option off or otherwise known as ghost mode, making it impossible for most people to know where they are.
"I don't have it public it all," Yvonnah said. "They don't have to have you as a personal friend on Snap Chat, and they can still find you on Snap Map."
There are now non-profit groups that can help people who suffer online abuse.
So if you are a parent wondering what you can do at this point, ask the experts, your children. Those who mentor and work with teens every day, it comes down to common sense.
"They(parents) really need to sit down with their kids, and lay out the guidelines on what they expect from their kids and what their kids expect from the parents," said Moorhead Police Department school resource officer Ethan Meehan.
Meehan sees Snapchat all the time in schools. It is a chief mode of communication with young people. While he agrees the app is useful, it is important to keep information generated by the app out of the wrong hands.
"Turn off your location. It is good for your parents to know where you are — and that is a helpful tool — but not everyone needs to know where you are all the time," Meehan said.
Besides ghost mode, users can also select specific people they want to share their location with, and is one way to prevent a potential stalker from monitoring and knowing your frequent daily stops.