All eyes on me

Uncovering the downsides of overusing Life360


Aashi Venkat

Life360, a popular location tracking app, can often be misused by parents and children, making the app less effective in its purpose.

Aashi Venkat

Are you really going to the library on a Sunday afternoon? Remember, all it takes is a glance at your location on Life360 to see where you are. So, do you still want to go?

Life360 is a location-sharing application where users can track the precise location of anyone they have added, as long as the other party consents. The app has become increasingly popular among parents who use it to keep track of their children. 

However, the issue emerges when this tool starts being abused and the line between safe and intrusive parenting is crossed — instead of being used to ensure a kid is safe, the app is used to monitor every movement they make, such as checking the app every half hour to ensure the kid is really studying at the Cupertino Library on a Sunday afternoon. According to an article by the Washington Post, Life360 has harmfully turned into an invasion of privacy upon becoming overused by parents, with forums on Reddit dedicated to the app’s detrimental impacts to many parent-child relationships. Additionally, the article mentions that parents use the app to track their children in college, and with students in college typically being over the age of 18, this demonstrates how it is also being used by parents to strip their kids of privacy even as they enter adulthood.  

Not only does this discourage kids from being honest with their parents, but this also encourages them to go behind their parents’ back, going so far as to hide their location or to pinpoint it somewhere else. With the app growing in popularity, ways to counter its tracking mechanisms have grown more accessible as well. For example, students can download popular programs with over 47 million uses (as of September of 2022) to trick the app’s settings into falsely marking their location. All it takes is the click of a few buttons, and suddenly you can be placed anywhere on the map. 

Although lying about one’s location provides a short-term sense of comfort for both parties, as it allows parents to find comfort in their child supposedly being at the library, the app is essentially rendered useless in accomplishing what it was intended to do. If an issue happens to arise, the kid’s location is unknown and the sense of security provided by the app is shattered. 

We must learn when the parental urge to protect goes too far, and we must work together to address this.  

It is important to understand that the issue does not stem directly from the app, however. Although the app was made to increase transparency between parents and children, this was done in the attempt to ensure safety, not to exert control. The fault instead lies on those who abuse the tool, using it to overly regulate their loved ones. 

Hence, to mitigate this issue does not mean to ban the app. Instead, as a society, we must learn when enough is enough — we must learn when the parental urge to protect goes too far, and we must work together to address this.  

In order to make Life360 a tool instead of an ankle monitor, it is first essential for families to have conversations and reach an understanding of what the app will be used for. This way, boundaries can be set to ensure kids still have a certain amount of freedom, yet parents can still keep tabs in case of an emergency. This conversation would ideally be revisited on an annual basis, allowing expectations to evolve alongside the kid’s age, but would create a basic foundation to ensure kids still have trust while parents have comfort. This can decrease parental strictness and child sneakiness alike, allowing Life360 to do what it was originally created to do.