The reality of Life 360: Helicopter parents take it to the extreme

The modern world, one heavily dictated by technology, has impacted the lives of all in many ways: driving made easier by GPS maps, new recipes at one’s fingertips and the ability to interact with others all around the globe. However, even though there are all these benefits, one technology-based app can be detrimental to teens.

Life360 is an app that allows family members to all log into one unique account, which, in turn, shares the locations of everyone in the group. In addition, other settings can be enabled that send notifications when a member leaves or arrives at home.

One benefit of the app is that it can be used for a sense of safety, especially when out at night or someone is alone. If someone’s phone is on low battery or almost dead, a notification will be sent to all the other members, allowing them to check in and confirm the current location of their friend, family member or peer. While the app can detect if someone has been in a major collision while on the road, whether driving or as a passenger, Life360 can also record driving habits and report back to other members, something some may believe is not necessary to share with other people.

While Life360 has a few benefits, like the safety aspect, it’s causing teens to feel like they’re not trusted or can’t go anywhere without being watched. Senior Grayson Bell has Life360 and while enjoys knowing where her family is, she doesn’t like how her family can see every move she makes. In addition, after she completes a drive, sometimes she’ll receive texts about her speed during her commute, which she believes to be the downfalls of the app.

Due to this feeling, many teens are finding ways around the app and being tracked. The desire for freedom oftentimes outweighs teens’ mindset of following the rules. In this instance, it closes the door of communication between teen and guardian and has a drastic effect on the relationship. Instead of accomplishing the goal of providing peace of mind knowing where the person one is tracking is, Life360 is simply making teens more creative and innovative. With feeling watched or stalked by their parents, guardians and others, teens will find a way to avoid the tracking and other features of the app.

One thing to note is that this kind of technology didn’t exist for past generations. Parents had the freedom to go out without being helicoptered at all times, and present day kids and teens should also have that luxury. As long as all the rules and boundaries set by parents or guardians are being followed, a mutual trust should be established, which eliminates the need for apps that can be viewed as an invasion of one’s privacy.

In addition, Life360 isn’t the first thing to go to in case of a true emergency. Yes, the safety features are good to alert group members of low battery or a change in location, but in the event that someone needs help, many phones come with quicker options. On an iPhone, by simply clicking the volume button repeatedly, this will send an SOS to the local police department.

Lastly, there are other options rather than helicoptering over friends and family. People can simply share location between phones if knowing where loved ones are is of high importance. This courtesy accomplishes the same mission, while eliminating the stalking vibe of others knowing when one leaves or arrives practically anywhere. Another option would be to set up boundaries for when a child or friend goes out, like making sure they check in every couple hours or explain their plan beforehand. These alternatives can easily accomplish the same goal -- to keep everyone safe -- without becoming a shadow everywhere one goes.

Overall, Life360, while rooted in a good precedent, hasn’t played out in the capacity that it was intended. Modern America can use other technology to provide the whereabouts and safety features the app utilizes.


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