Life 360: Adult Supervision or Adult Superveillance?

Does Life360 and other tracking apps like it create trust issues between parents and their teens? 

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Most teenagers these days own a phone, which means that parents have the ability to take those phones and install whatever they want onto it, since most of the time they pay for it. There are controversial apps that parents tend to love, while teenagers on the other hand, tend to hate. There are several questions that come into play. The argument made for the app is that at the end of the day the app is there for a sense of safety and control. On the other side, teenagers are asking themselves if it is adult supervision or surveillance. 

Life360 is a location sharing app where family members are able to see each other from wherever they are at any moment of the day. There are some extra add on features that can be paid for, such as: crash detection, crime reports near the family, support during an active shooting, and identity theft protection. Teenagers and parents tend to have different opinions on the topic. On the popular app “TikTok,” using the hashtag “Life360” will show tons of videos of teenagers ranting about how much they hate the app or simply showing how to disable and trick parents into thinking they [teenagers] are at one place, when they are actually somewhere else. Hashtag “Life360” currently has 214.8M views. So what do teenagers at Lee’s Summit High School think of the popular tracking app? 

They kinda suck, but also are used for good reasons.” Senior Kamryn O’dell states. “If you are in trouble and don’t know where you are, then your parent can find you.” O’dell also talks about the cons of the app. “If you have super strict parents, you won’t be able to be a teenager and enjoy life. They will always be tracking you, and you most likely won’t get to go hang out with friends.”

A TikTok user by the name “cooperorlando” made a video titled “Parents: A Christmas Gift Idea for your Teenager…” and proceeded to show himself deleting Life360. When asking a teenager what their thoughts are on the app, as witnessed, most teenagers respond with how much they hate it. There is the thought provoking question that is up for debate. Does Life360 and other tracking apps like it create trust issues between parents and their teens? 

To me, it means that your parents don’t trust you”

— Senior Kamryn O’dell

“To me, it means that your parents don’t trust you,” says O’dell. “As a parent, I could see this being useful, but as a student/teenager, I don’t really like Life360. I have “Find My Friend” [Another popular tracking app] on my phone and my dad has me set up on his so he can see me, but Life360 is so much more in-depth than it needs to be. Like I don’t fully think tracking apps are bad, just the ones that are so in-depth that you can’t do anything. I also think it really depends on your parents too. If you have super strict parents, then tracking apps suck, but if you have “normal” parents then I don’t think they are too bad.” 

We’ve heard from many who’ve obtained the app, once they heard of our harrowing experience”

— Roxanne

While the app may not be super popular with the teenagers, the question “Can this app help save my family members life?” comes into play. On the website Life360.com there is a story titled “How Life360 Helped Rescue My Daughter” that was published January 25, 2018. Before getting into the story there is a note written from the author “Roxanne”. 

She writes: “I’ve summarized our story of how your app saved the life of our precious sixteen year old daughter last month. We’ve heard from many who’ve obtained the app, once they heard of our harrowing experience.”

Her story in summary goes as follows: In late October of 2017, sixteen year old Myleea and her family were spending their final hours together with their grandmother in the hospital. Myleea was sad and wanted some support from her friends, so she decided to text a friend of hers that she had met at summer camp a few years back. They had mostly been keeping in touch online, which meant that she was not super familiar with him in real life, but she was desperate for support during the difficult times she was going through and was glad for his company. After staying in the hospital lobby for a while, the two friends decided to get some coffee and planned on later returning to the hospital. It was not until Myleea got into the car that she realized the boy she thought she could trust was not planning on bringing her back. He was at the belief that he had disabled her phone, but Myleea sent her location on Life360 to her parents quickly by connecting to his phone’s hotspot. She was gone for more than a few hours, so the parents got the authorities involved. They followed the last known location that Myleea had sent them on Life360 and eventually found Myleea and her kidnapper in an extremely remote landfill. They held the man at gunpoint, while a very scared Myleea got out of the car. The story ends there with the website Life360 adding at the end “It’s stories like these that remind us that we’re not just building an app, we’re helping families and friends stay safe.”

So while this app may have its flaws, just like any other tracking app, it is very possible that it could help save many more lives in the future. It is one of those parenting styles that draw in controversy with some parents saying the app digs into their teenagers’ business too much and others saying it provides a sense of security. There will probably never be a time when both parents and teenagers will all fully agree.

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