- China Stringer Network/Reuters
- Life360 is a popular location-sharing app often used by parents that’s listed as the No. 5 social networking app in the App Store.
- Some enterprising teens have figured out how to hide their locations from their parents within the app, and they share their methods on TikTok.
- Other teens, though, take the parents’ side, leaving comments asking how they would feel if their kids faked their location.
- The app, and teens’ methods for skirting it, have become a meme on TikTok.
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Parents have always worried about what their kids get up to without supervision, but in 2019, they have more ways than ever to always have an eye on them.
But as tracking tools used by parents get more sophisticated, teens are finding increasingly clever and sneaky ways to get around those tools. One such tracking app, Life360, has become so prevalent that it’s become a meme in and of itself among teens on TikTok.
Unsurprisingly, many teens dislike the idea of always sharing their location with their parents. In June, Louise Matsakis at Wired reported on teens using TikTok to make memes about the tracking app. Now, teens on the video sharing app are posting ways they’ve found to get around parental supervision on Life360, while others comment and point out that their parents just want to keep them safe.
Life360 had over 18 million monthly users by the end of 2018. The app lets you set a “circle” of family members, and then you can access each other’s locations at any time. Users can also be notified when someone else arrives at or leaves a particular location, or when their battery is running low. The basic version is free, and the premium $7.99 per month edition also offers roadside assistance and other perks for new drivers.
Not everyone being tracked on Life360 is a young kid or new driver. In October, Abby Ohlheiser at The Washington Post reported on parents continuing to track their children at college with parental tracking apps. And even kids as young as age 9 have figured out ways to get around other types of surveillance from their parents, like Apple’s limits on screen time.
Here’s how Life360 became a TikTok meme, and how teens are outsmarting it.
Reposting audio is one of TikTok’s signature features, which makes it easy for memes to get popular quickly. Users can click on the audio in a video and easily make a new video with the same sound.
As more teens and their parents use Life360, the community on TikTok has made a meme out of it. Videos are set to the song “FLY” by Still Lonely, which has the lyrics “Life 360” in it.
One TikTok creator, @daphnechi, told Business Insider via Instagram message that when she made this video, she had about 20 followers.
“I didn’t think that it would be seen by almost 2 million people,” she said. “I made it just to help people.”
She said that downloading an app like Life360 implies that parents don’t trust their children.
“Yes, my parents are trying to keep me safe, but one of the best parts about being a teenager is being mysterious and hiding things from your parents,” she said.
Still, some commenters are less supportive of finding ways around the app. One comment says: “Or you could tell your parents the truth and be a good teenager. They’re just looking out for you ????.”
Life360 CEO Chris Hull told Business Insider in an email that while many TikTok users are vocal about their dislike for the app, he doesn’t believe they represent the app’s user base, and pointed out that the app has more than 1.6 million review on the App Store and Google Play Store.
“Yes, there are some from frustrated teens but you will overwhelmingly see reviews from parents and teens on how they use the app for everyday coordination and safety,” Hull said. “In 2018, Life360 conducted a nationwide study which found that nearly 70% of teens are comfortable using a location sharing service with their families. So it’s not surprising to hear that some peers are defending us – their response and our research all support the fact that location sharing has become the new norm for today’s digitally native families.”
Still, most teens on TikTok are more focused on outsmarting Life360. Many TikTok users are sharing the enterprising ways they’re skirting the location-tracking.
The most common method kids use is turning off WiFi and data to freeze their location in the app.
One user shared her method and asked that “no one snitch on me [because] this is my lifeline” …
… while another user framed their how-to as a guide for how to sneak out.
Some TikTok creators joke about their strict parents …
… while others record their screen to show followers a step-by-step guide.
While we can’t confirm whether the method actually works – nor can we encourage using the app to lie – it’s clear that teens might have the upper hand, at least when it comes to technology.