As I took my little one off to college for a visit. My always active, curious and analytical mind suddenly became vulnerable, realizing that my son would be long gone soon and would be braving the world on his own.
I started drawing parallels of my own far from home college experience, and how my parents coped with my departure from protected , comfortable home. Son’s college did great at educating parents on what to expect and how to handle monetary as well as emotional support. A fellow parent introduced me to a concept of a mobile app which in modern world allows to let go of kids and at the same time keep an eye on their activities and location. Given my natural IT inclination and Security, sound bites of it reminded me of spyware. Finally when son was off to college I decided to give it a try.
Created a circle of trust in this app with wife, skeptical about trial period and if it will stop working or force me to adopt premium paid services, neither happened. Once convinced that it was relatively easy to use and not a battery drain for mobile phone, i added my younger one who is normally around the community playing with his friends and struggle to find out which area he is off to. And finally the main goal was to convince my college undergrad freshman to acknowledge and accept to be in family trust circle and give up his location anonymity.
Yes, the hesitation is real, are you ready to give up your location privacy to all your family members. Luckily in this case elder one was already aware of it and after his own research on downsides and benefits, he gave it a go. We are now a happy Life360 family circle. It did not stop my elder one to join separate trust circle with his friends
Physical movement these days are limited to living room to Kitchen due to ongoing pandemic, however Wife and I relied on the app to stay connected as digital fairies around our College undergrad as he walked 12-15 KM every day in his campus. While fixated on couch most of the day, it was interesting to see app map his whole day movements for us. Downsides, it did give away our plans to Children, they knew exactly where we were picking up food or we are on our way to surprise them. We joke around asking them to add us to their friends circle as well.
It did let us know that our little one is now enjoying his new found freedom and skipped his early morning classes, but it’s a balancing act between Parenting and Privacy, we do realize eventually kids will get off the leash , move to different states, maybe different country, but until then, this app brings some solace to virtual live connection to family
Like everything else, this app has some trenches as well, if user does not turn on Wi-Fi and solely relies on Cellular connection , triangulated location can be way off. It recorded me being in apartment complex a mile away while i was in office. Another one around App maker monetizing the location data and selling it for analytics and advertisements without anonymizing user information. Solution was easy with an inbuilt option to stop app sharing data with 3rd parties. While it is helpful and fun at times, it’s no replacement of Video conference and voice calls that we have with loved ones in small circle of trust.
As kids grow , we become better parents. I discovered newfound respect for my parents as well. Give it a try with your friends or family, remember to use technology responsibly and always with human connection
P.S, am not affiliated to Life360 or it’s partners and similar apps from other competitors would be equally good choices.