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App that tracks teens’ location can cause distrust between co-parents

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2019 | Child Custody, Divorce |

Life360 is a free app that allows parents of teens to track their child’s location through their smartphone. As a primary account user, you can also monitor their speed while driving, their phone’s battery life, and other sensitive data that critics say could be abused or misused.

Many parents download the app to ease their minds on family vacation. Teens, however, regularly post on social media sites such as TikTok that it feels like their parents are spying on them, and discouraging their journey to independence.

There are growing concerns in the technological surveillance community that parents or jealous partners can overuse this technology to unfairly micro-manage or even abuse their children.

How could the app be misused?

Unfortunately, co-parents sometimes retain anger, resentment, jealousy, or mistrust towards each other. As a result, you may turn your focus on protecting your child.

You may have sincere concerns about your child while they are with their co-parent. Your motivations may include:

  • Verifying that they’re taking your child where they say they will.
  • Concern that your co-parent is lying about where they’re going.
  • Concern that your co-parent has asked your child to lie for them.
  • Concern that your child is in a vehicle that is exceeding the speed limit.
  • Concern that your child is having an unhealthy amount of screen time.

If the other parent does not know that your child has a location-tracking app on their phone, your co-parent might feel that you are using the app to monitor not only your child but them. If so, they may feel that you’ve violated their rights to privacy and to parenting. Apps such as Life 360 can seem like a solution to your concerns. However, under the wrong circumstances, it could seem suspicious or excessive.

Life360 sells the data they collect on both the free and premium versions of the app to car insurance company Arity (a subsidiary of Allstate, which is an investor in Life360). They are looking to expand their business in the coming years.

If you are interested in incorporating a location tracking app into your parenting plan, you may need to negotiate the terms with a legal professional.  They can help you avoid misunderstandings with your children and your co-parent.