Dear Harlan: What do you think of Life360 and other family tracking apps? I have a 12-year-old who just got a cellphone. We are on the fence when it comes to tracking apps. I like knowing where she is and what she’s doing, but I also think there is something wrong about 24-hour surveillance. My husband and I agreed we would only use it in case of an emergency. We know some of our friends use it. What do you think?
— Parent of a Preteen
Dear Parent of a Preteen: For people who aren’t familiar with Life360, this is a free app that tracks members’ movements. You can see where family members are going, how fast they’re driving and when they arrive at their destinations (Mom arrived at Target). There are other safety features too. My only question is, why? Do you need all this info? I know it’s available, but there should be a reason to use this info. You don’t need to know how fast your daughter is riding her bike. She doesn’t need to know when you arrive at the mall. You can trust that if there is an emergency, you can access her location on her cellphone. There is something to be said about giving your preteen room to be a kid. I know my daughter needs her space. I want her to make choices not because Dad’s watching, but because these choices are in alignment with her values. Unless I have a reason to track, it’s not something for me. I’m also not a fan of sharing this much info with third parties. As a parent, you will have access to an enormous amount of tech that will connect you with your kids. Before using something just because it’s interesting and available, have a specific reason. Besides, kids who are tracked and don’t want to be tracked find ways to throw off a parent’s scent. Other parents want to weigh in?