Made My Teens Install Tracking App to Follow Their Locations

0 0

Cavan Images/Getty Images

  • I asked my teenage sons to install an app that always shows their location.
  • It prompted a family discussion about whether this was considered stalking or good parenting.
  • Using the app led to an unexpected situation that made me question my children’s respect.

A few months ago, I asked my 17-year-old twin sons to install the Life360 app on their phones so I could see their locations.

My partner and I had a lengthy discussion about the ethics of such an app and whether we were overstepping a privacy boundary. In the end, we thought the safety benefits of utilizing the app outweighed the concerns.

We live in Australia, where you have to be 18 to obtain a driver’s license, so they still rely on public transport and Uber to get around. Our sons attend late-night parties, and we wanted to see where they were and, if necessary, pick them up if they could not get home.

Our sons thought it bordered on stalking

There were some heated debates over our request, but in the end, the fact they are still minors — and we pay for their cellphones — meant we had the final say. I also researched the app to check they wouldn’t sell the data they accumulated — something that had been a problem previously. I ensured we all checked the “Do Not Sell” or “Share My Personal” Information in the app settings.

The app compiles a lot of data, including how long a person stays at a place, the routes they take, and their speeds.

I feel that some people could become obsessed with the data. It seems too much and feels like Big Brother is voyeuristically tracking every move. I still wanted to respect their privacy and agreed only to use the app when they were out late or traveling long distances to ensure they had arrived safely.

Just as I could see their location, they could see mine. When they were waiting to be picked up, they could see exactly where I was and how long it would take me to get them. This saves a lot of calls and texting and means they are ready for me when I arrive at their location.

The app has led to some interesting situations

Over Christmas, my partner and I went to the United States while my sons stayed in Australia with their mother. One morning, US time, I switched on the app. It was 2 a.m. in Australia, and I was surprised to see Charlie and Thomas at our house. They had never stayed unsupervised in our house and didn’t have a key.

I texted them to see why they were there, and they replied they had been to a party in the neighborhood and had crashed at our place with some friends. They had jumped the back fence to retrieve the spare key to get inside.

While we trust our sons, we felt they showed a lack of respect by not asking if they could have friends at our house. Feeling betrayed, I checked on their location every day while we were away from home and was shocked when, the next week, a similar thing happened: one of the twins spent the night at our house by himself and didn’t advise us.

I still feel a little uneasy about using the app, but feel it is a good tool for parents to use until their children turn 18. Once my children are adults, I’ll consider deleting the app.

You may also like...