Do Parental Monitoring Apps go too Far?

High Schoolers’ Opinions on Location Tracking

By: Katie Vastola and Moira Sirois

Apps that let parents monitor their kids’ phones are controversial. Parents feel the need to supervise their kids’ activity online, while kids and teens do not want their location checked or their devices controlled. Although it is important to watch over your child, some apps take it too far.

Life360 is a common app used by families. It tracks device location and is also capable, with the purchase of a premium plan, of tracking driver statistics. It is on the lower end of the control spectrum, with these being the only aspects it controls. Like most monitoring apps, it is more popular among parents than their kids. 

A few reasons that teens like it is because it gives them the ability to track their parents as well, and it reduces the amount of texting when they go out. “Sometimes if my mom is picking me up from somewhere I can see exactly where she is, which is faster than trying to figure it out by text or calling,” said sophomore Ava Moulthrop. 

It can also be safer for parents because instead of having to check their phone to call or text you back while they’re driving, their kids can just check how close their parents are for themselves.

 Life360 shows where you are at all times and can give notifications when people in the group arrive at locations that have been tagged by parents. This mostly eliminates the need for kids to text their parents when they get to where they are going. 

“I think it is good because it allows for parents to stay connected with their kids, especially when they are in chaotic situations,” said sophomore Helen Copper. 

However, some kids do not like Life360 because they think it can be too controlling. 

Freshman Darcy Setliff, who used to have Life360, says she thinks apps like this take location tracking too far. 

Another monitoring app is Find my Friends which is only found on iOS devices. Moulthrop said, “Apps such as Find My Friends don’t really bother me as much because they don’t get notifications.” 

Sophomore Casey Jackson, who has been using Find My Friends since seventh grade and also shares her location with her parents specifically when she goes out, is okay with using the app and feels it can be helpful. 

She said that she understands the want to see where your child is when they go out in case of an emergency. However, she feels that “if it’s on all the time it can be too much and it shows that [parents] don’t trust their kid.”