What to consider when asking your child to download a location tracking app ahead of the school year

Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 3:59 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Your child will be back to school before you know it, and with school comes a whole slew of other activities, which means your kid will be on the go. Sports, extracurriculars, jobs, and hanging out with friends are just a few of the reasons they’ll likely be away from home more often.

Some location tracking apps are providing parents with some peace of mind.

“Find my iPhone and the family sharing is a great option. it works between all devices, you can for cellular devices, use it on watches you can use it on pads and phones,” said Steven Schweiger, Senior Sales Representative, Cellcom Rib Mountain.

Schweiger with Cellcom said he uses another tracking app with his children. It works well for families that have a mixture of different devices, like Apple, Samsung, and Android.

“I tend to recommend the app Life 360,” said Schweiger.

That can track where each member is, give driving reports, battery life updates, and more. But, Schweiger said the apps aren’t completely fail-safe and there are some pros and cons to consider.

“You’re giving them personal information and that is information that is out there,” said Schweiger.

The apps are collecting your data and that’s not all.

“One thing to consider is your kids will probably track you more than you track them,” said Schweiger.

Behavioral Health Licensed Clinical Social Worker Maggi Rocha said it’s also important to consider how your child may feel about it. In addition, consider how you approach the conversation of getting the app, which could be key.

“Bringing that child into that conversation gives them a sense of more control and independence where it doesn’t feel so much as it’s something that’s happening to them, it’s something that you guys are making collectively the decision together for safety,” said Maggi Rocha, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Clinical Lead at Behavioral Health, Stevens Point.

Rocha said to establish boundaries from the beginning. Talk to them about in which situations you’ll be checking their location. She said checking often can be too much information and can be anxiety-inducing.

“Because you’re constantly feeling that need to check and that child is feeling your constant need to check,” said Rocha.

Open communication and establishing trust are important for both your and your child’s health.

“It’s important for your child’s development to have that sense of privacy,” said Rocha, “And it’s important for your health as a parent, for your mental health, to be able to feel like you can trust your child.”

Schweiger added there is a way to temporarily hide your location and there are situations where it can cause problems. Rocha brought up the point if your child forgets their phone somewhere and you check their location, they may say they are somewhere their phone is not. That’s why Rocha stresses communication is key for these location-sharing apps.