March 29, 2020

Tracking apps: are they too intrusive?

Tracking apps might be fun with friends or helpful to keep track of roommates, but it can become a problem when parents get involved.

Tracking apps allow users to see a general location of where someone is so long as that person has given permission for their location to be seen. These apps include the built-in iPhone app known as Find My Friends, Life360, and the snap map feature of Snapchat. 

Find My Friends allows iPhone users to view someone’s location once that person has given the user permission to do so. Since this app was developed by Apple Inc., it only runs on iOS devices. Only iPhone users have access to it. 

Life360, which has a primary goal of keeping families connected at all times, is known to be the more intense version of all the tracking apps since it gives users a much more detailed description of where someone is and what they’re doing. 

Life360 was released in 2008 and was created by Chris Hullus and Alex Haro.

When using Life360 to track someone’s location, the app sends users an alert each time the person they’re tracking arrives at a new destination. It’s not just a standard location sharing app. 

Snapchat’s snap map feature is similar to Find My Friends since it allows users to share their location with their friends so that their friends can see where they are on the map. 

Lexi Odom, Junior Art Therapy and Psychology major.

“My mom is super overprotective, but I know it’s just because she loves me so much,” junior Lexi Odom said about her mom who tracks her location through Snapchat’s snap map feature. “She does basically want to know where I am and who I’m with at all times though.” 

Lexi feels like her mom being able to track her location is a bit intrusive, but that it’s not as bad since she isn’t in high school anymore. Now that she no longer lives at home, all her mom can do is text her regarding where she is or what she’s doing. 

Some students, however, have never had much of an issue with their parents being able to track their location and even prefer it that way.

For junior Tara Zinser, being able to share her location with her parents and see their location in return is more of a convenience than anything. They use the Find My Friends app to share their location with each other. 

“It’s definitely not intrusive, but I also don’t really do anything that I wouldn’t want my parents knowing about,” Zinser said. “I don’t care if they know where I am all the time.”

Tara Zinser, Junior Emerging Media Digital Design major.

While she doesn’t personally find the tracking app situation to be intrusive, Zinser feels like they can be an invasion of privacy when they’re used with wrong intentions in mind. She also thinks that the Life360 app is a bit too much. 

Overall, the debate about whether or not these tracking apps are too intrusive really just depends on the people involved and the particular situation at hand. 

“They can be helpful, but I also think they have the ability to be damaging and just sort of creepy at times,” Odom said. 

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