Map Apps for Kids? Should Parents Worry?

Words by
Jake Cutler

FEB 26, 2024

Map Apps for Kids? Should Parents Worry?

Remember printing out MapQuest directions to take in the car with you before a drive? Or better yet, remember keeping an actual map in the glove box of your car? 

It’s never fun to admit we’re getting old but neither of those common practices from years ago are even remotely relatable to our kids today.

GPS innovation — and the migration of that technology into mobile devices via map apps — have made it so much easier to get from point A to B. And while there are some concerns over our dependence on GPS, this is a great example of technology that brings big benefits.

When you consider the types of dangers inherent in many of the apps available today (particularly social media), map apps are relatively safe. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t come with any risks.

Many parents might not have considered that a navigation app could lead a child to both the physical address of an adult business and (likely worse) their website.

We’re all about helping parents stay informed so let’s look at a few potential dangers common to map and navigation apps.

Navigating the Unseen Dangers of Conventional Map Apps

There are a lot of map/navigation apps out there but a few dominate the market. It’s tough to get exact numbers because Apple Maps comes as the default navigation app on all iPhones (which are the most popular phones in the world) but survey data suggest Google Maps still has a much larger user base

Because of its popularity, we’ll cover some Google Maps specifics a little later. But first, let’s look at the common features to be aware of since most navigation apps tend to be pretty similar:

  • User-generated content
  • Embedded web browsers
  • Location sharing
  • Ads

User-generated Content

Any app that allows users to post their own content means it could allow your child to be exposed to literally anything. Reviews (including photos) and ratings are examples of user generated content (UGC) common to navigation apps.

Embedded Web Browsers

Web browsers are how we navigate the internet (think Google Chrome or Safari). Some map apps include embedded web browsers that can act like a back door to the internet, even if you have safeguards in place on the main browser on your child’s device. 

For example, a child could use Google Maps to look up a local business that includes that business’s website in the listing. If the app allows your child to open that link with an embedded browser within the app, then they could potentially springboard from there to any other site online.

illustration of navigational app

Location Sharing

To function effectively, navigation apps will require location sharing and that can come with some risks. This means that the real-time location of your child (assuming they keep their phone with them) is being sent to the developer of the app. 

Most apps have privacy policies that outline what they do and don’t do with that data but it’s a good idea to confirm. You’ll want to be sure you trust the app to protect that information. You’ll also want to check app settings to ensure that the device’s location is only being shared while the app is in use, not at all times.


Some navigation apps make money by selling ad space within the app. This means that even though your child intends to use the app purely for navigation, they may be exposed to content from a wide variety of advertisers. Most ads will be pretty harmless, but there are no guarantees, so it’s something to be aware of.

Using a map app yourself before giving your child access to it is one way to determine whether inappropriate ads are likely to pop up. 

Is Google Maps Safe for Kids?

While certainly not the most dangerous app out there, Google Maps does pose some risks to kids. The concerns to be aware of are all those we’ve outlined above: user-generated content, embedded web browsers, location sharing, and ads.

Gabb Maps: Navigation with Safety as the Top Priority

A safe navigation app is one of the most common requests we received at Gabb. This makes sense because a big part of a child’s development involves spreading out to explore more of the world around them. As their circle expands, the need for trustworthy navigation grows too.

Gabb Maps

Gabb teamed with a company called HERE to create Gabb Maps. HERE is widely recognized as the most complete maps platform — even the military and major delivery companies use them for their navigation. 

By combining their expertise and Gabb’s commitment to kid safety, Gabb Maps provides a safe, easy-to-use navigation app regularly edited with fresh and accurate map data. 

Now available on all Gabb devices, Gabb Maps doesn’t collect kids’ data or contain any ads, user-generated content, or images from businesses. It also excludes phone numbers, websites, and store hours for all adult-only businesses. 

In a simple app experience designed for kids, Gabb Maps provides:

  • custom routing for pedestrians and bikes that recognizes walkways, stairs, and ramps
  • detailed maps of kid-friendly attractions like landmarks, theme parks, and malls
  • a route planner with walking, biking, or driving directions to addresses or businesses
  • traffic conditions along with written driving directions so that teens can avoid things like construction, accidents, and busy roads
  • accurate GPS locator so kids don’t get lost
  • satellite map views to help kids better understand where they are located
  • fun 3D buildings for prominent locations so kids can explore famous landmarks

In short, it’s the Gabb commitment to safety and innovation applied to a navigation app. This means peace of mind for parents and freedom for kids and teens to find their way to where they need to go.

Any questions?

Was there anything we missed when it comes to dangers inherent in common map apps? Let us know in the comments. And to learn more about Gabb Maps, including how to enable it on your child’s Gabb device, visit the Gabb Maps page for more detail.


  • Gabb Phone 3 Pro: The Newest Safe Phone for Kids on Feb 26, 2024 01:45 PM

    […] Maps is available for parents to enable on Gabb Phone 3 Pro and doesn’t collect kids’ data or contain any ads, user-generated content, or images from businesses. For additional protection, Gabb Maps also excludes phone numbers, websites, and store hours for […]

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