Many teenagers know and fear Life360, the dreaded parent-installed location tracking app. Life360 not only gives parents access to the location of their kid's phone; but also tracks speed when driving, shares phone battery percentage, and notifies guardians when their children are texting and driving. With their parents being able to see their every move, kids are finding it harder to enjoy spending stress-free time with friends out of the house
The app was released on the Android marketplace in 2008, and has since made over 90 million dollars in profit. There are many location tracking apps out there, but none as disliked as Life360. But what makes it so bad?
Based on the thousands of memes and TikToks created by kids who have been forced to download the app, it's clear that Life360 stands out because of how accurate it is, as well as how hard it is to work around its highly developed characteristics. Teenagers are finding it very difficult to go out and have a good time with their friends without feeling like they're being supervised by their parents, who can now watch them at any time from the comfort of their cell phone screen. By downloading the app, kids feel they are not gaining independence from their parents, but actually losing it.
Parents have invested too much in this app, and not enough in trusting their children. The idea that a parent can wield authority through an app makes many teenagers upset--even when they're out of the house, their parent's regime is still present. Even when kids aren’t sneaking around, parents still find ways to use the app against them.
Included with the free version of the app, parents have access to the speed their kids are driving--in some situations, going even just 3 or 4 miles above the speed limit can spark arguments at home. Glitches with location can also be a problem, causing parents to be misled about their children's whereabouts, when the issue actually lies with the app and not the kid.
There are still ways around the app, however. Kids can turn off or leave their phones at the location at which they are supposed to be, and then sneak off to other places. This defeats the whole purpose of a trusting relationship between parents and their kids, and only makes teens feel like it is necessary to have to sneak around instead of being honest.
Now, the app does have benefits. It is nice for parents to know where their kids are and when they are there and that they are just safe in general. However, it is the bonus features of the app that really make it over the top, and make it such an unwanted thing. Many kids would much rather prefer a simpler app that only has access to location, and can’t track such extra things like how fast they are driving, or their phone battery percentage.
Life360 has a well-deserved reputation as a tool of overprotective parenting. If we want to foster a trusting relationship between parents and their kids, invasive apps like Life360 are not the way to do it.