Life360 mobile App Archives

Life360 mobile App Archives

Life360 mobile App Archives

Life360 mobile App Archives

Tracking apps spark debate over protection and privacy

An increasing number of parents are turning to Life360 and other tracking apps to monitor kids and family members. Critics, including some teens, liken the emerging apps — which can monitor location, driving speed and texting while driving — as a digital form of stalking with potential to erode privacy.

When Kira Adelman was 17 and on a first date, she got a call from her mom when she strayed from a walking path at the park. Alarmed, her mom asked, “What are you doing in the woods?”

A few years later, Adelman was driving 85 mph on the way to college and her mom, Lynne McMullin, hours away, took a screenshot of the speed and texted it to her.

More recently, when Adelman misplaced her phone after a late night, her mom was able to locate the phone, zoom in on its last location and, even with the battery drained, spot it on the front lawn.

“It’s kept me on the straight and narrow,” said Adelman. And, the technology goes both ways. Adelman can also see the whereabouts of her mother and grandmother. “I can see when my mom is at Parx Casino. It prevents her from going to the casino because Grandma can see how much time she’s there.”

Adelman, now 22, knows she is being tracked through the location-sharing Life360 phone app, and though she has mixed feelings about it, she’s experienced both the perks and drawbacks of her family’s use of technology to keep tabs on each other.

Social media experts say tracking apps such as Life360, Find My Friends, Footprints, Family Tracker and more are growing in popularity. Life360, founded in 2008, alone has more than 23 million members, and is a favorite among a growing number of parents who say they can tap into monitoring features that go beyond geographic mapping.

Life360 is a free app that groups people into private, invite-only circles, in which users can view others' recent and real-time whereabouts, see if someone is texting while driving, and get alerts when family comes and goes from most frequented places and when a user's battery is low. A premium, paid feature can detect when people are in a car crash, and alert emergency services or call for roadside assistance.

Life360 spokeswoman Sara Sutyak said the app is a big draw to families because it helps them keep track of their safety and schedules.

"Our typical Life360 family uses Life360 to coordinate their hectic lives," she said. "It helps create friction-less coordination, helping families coordinate everything from grocery shopping to when to put dinner on the table or to know where pick up is on the soccer field."

One recent day, Lynne McMullin sat beside her daughter and her mother, Geri McMullin, at their Doylestown, Pennsylvania, home and displayed the app on her phone, pointing to a GPS-like map with moving dots, each representing a person in their circle, the term used to describe a network of connected users.

"It gives me peace of mind," said Lynne McMullin, who marveled at the ability to see one daughter's whereabouts when she was out of the country on a school trip. "They don't have to call or text to tell me where they are. I just check the app."

Many area parents say tracking apps, like Life 360, reduces worry.

But some local teens say it also reduces trust.

"I find that tracking apps for the most part are used by parents who don’t trust their kids or who are nervous about their kids growing up," said teen Emma Garry, who graduated in May from the Pennington School in Mercer County. "I feel as though I don’t get the same summer freedom that my parents got to experience where they were told to come home when it was dark and that was that."

She's not alone.

On popular teen social media platforms, teens are mocking and venting about parental surveillance in Life360 TikTok Memes and videos claiming it’s ruining their summer. “Who ever created life360 is the biggest snitch of all time,” one teen laments. Other responses include: “My moms instinct is stronger than Life360.” “So glad my parents haven’t found out about Life360 yet.” “I’m glad my parents aren’t tech savvy and still believe I’m innocent.”

Garry said her parents got the app about a year ago, and previously used “Find My iPhone,” an app that comes with the Apple phone.

“They’ve always had some sort of tracking device on me since 6th grade,” said Garry, who is heading into her freshman year at Penn State. “The app just makes me feel like I’m always being watched, even though I know that’s not the case. There’s no reason my parents should or would be stalking me, but it just makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m out doing 'teenager things' but feel like my parents are there with me.”

Keeleigh Boyles, 11, said most kids her age don't mind the tracking apps. She said it’s common that parents use technology to help monitor them. Plus, she said, she has nothing to worry about.

"It's not like I'm sneaking out," she said.

Not just for kids

Local families realize the app’s benefits are not just to keep track of young ones with phones, but rather to know the locations of their adult friends and family members, too.

Jean Peterson, of Mount Holly, said her adult family members were eager to opt in on Life360.

“We are currently all adults and can opt in or out; surprisingly all the younger family members, ages 20 to 35, requested to be included,” she said. “It has helped on more than one instance of when the car broke down and we were able to get to their location easily by using the 'directions to there' mode.”

She also makes use of the “directions mode” by reversing it to get expected time of arrival for dinner when family is traveling home from work.

“We have several younger family members who work second shift and travel through the city to get home late at night,” Peterson said. “It gives peace of mind when us older folks can at a glance see that they have arrived safely home.”

She said her niece uses it to find out when family is home so she can get a free meal and a swim in the pool.

“I don't worry about privacy or trust issues,” Peterson said. “We had one family member who was concerned but decided convenience outweighed concerns, and another family member has the driving habits turned off so her dad cannot comment on her top speed on a trip.”

At 11 years old, Anna Showbrooks has the Friend Finder app so she can keep in touch with her friends. "You can also see when your friend's phone battery is low and text them to charge their phone," she said. "And I don't care about my mom seeing where I am."

Her mother, Elizabeth Showbrooks, said the app gives her added comfort when her family is at the shore and the kids want to walk along the boardwalk. "I can also see when my son is (driving) on his way home," said Showbrooks, who feels an added layer of safety by knowing their location, especially at night.

McMullin’s husband, Bucks County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Bruno, said his family has been using the app for years.

“As a deputy, when I'm out late at night, my wife can use it to put her mind at ease that I'm OK because she can see me moving,” said Bruno, who also works as an Uber driver. “She actually called me once when it appeared on the app that I was in the woods for an extended period of time. As an Uber driver, she can also put her mind at ease as long as she sees me moving late at night.”

Drawbacks and limits

Joseph M. Yeager, founder of Safety Net of Pennsylvania, said he's not a fan of such apps.

"Yes, knowing where your family members are and the panic button feature that it has can be a good thing," Yeager said. "Personally, I’m more concerned with the lack of privacy that it opens up to people, but especially to children. It opens up the opportunity for 24/7 helicopter parenting, where parents get too involved with what their kids are doing."

Some tracking apps that go beyond just location monitoring are banned in other countries because people in relationships were having more invasive apps installed on their partner's phones without their knowledge, Yeager said.

Even if family members realize a tracking app is installed, privacy issues still surface, Yeager said. "These apps eliminate 'alone time' because if someone is using an app of this nature, they are always under the microscope."

Bruno acknowledged a few drawbacks of the app.

“I've inquired of my daughter why she was using the phone so often while driving and she said she was not,” he said. “ Apparently, because she plays her music from her phone on Bluetooth in the car, Life360 indicates that as 'phone usage.'"

The app, he said, also shows "top speed" on a trip.

“It can be very concerning when you see that a child was going 80 mph but that can sometimes be what they did for a few seconds while overtaking a slow-moving vehicle,” he said.

Bruno also questions the use of such apps for a "next day" glance.

"While it is great for tracking people out of concern, some people use it 'next day' to see where one was the night before or what time they arrived home," he said. "I think that is a bit of invasion of privacy."

Josh Ochs, an author and expert on social media safety, said parents are struggling to keep up with their children and are seeking other resources that can help them. But, he said, they shouldn't lean too heavily on tracking apps.

"Parental control apps are there to help, however, they can be a false sense of security at times," he said. "The best safety app is a healthy ongoing dialogue between parents and students face to face about social media, online reputation and digital relationships."

He added, "Parental control tracking apps are like an airbag in a car; they are the last line of defense to protect your child when driving, but there's a lot more parents can do to protect their kids earlier on."

Ochs advises on his site, SmartSocial.com, that parents be on the same apps as their kids, so they can see what they are seeing online.

"If a parent outsources the safety of their child to these apps without investing time in a healthy dialogue and safety contract then they might have a false sense of security," he said.

Geri McMullin, Adelman's grandmother, said that she also got the alert that her granddaughter was driving 85 mph, and although she uses the app, she has mixed feelings about it, too.

"In a way it's awful," said McMullin, who has a heightened sense of worry and a stronger sense of responsibility to check the app when her daughter is away. "I think sometimes not knowing is better than knowing."

Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]
, Life360 mobile App Archives

Choosing the right family safety app isn’t easy. There are a number of  great options on the market today providing parents some peace of mind. MamaBear App and Life360 are two top choices many families consider.  While both apps have similar features when it comes to monitoring a child’s location using a smartphone or other mobile device, there are some key differences between the apps. Let’s discuss what makes MamaBear and Life360 similar and different.

Similarly, the MamaBear and Life360 app offers parents the ability see their children’s current and recent locations. Both apps also allow kids to check in with parents using the app. They also allow parents to set automatic alerts to track when their kids come and go from places they frequently visit (school, soccer practice, friends’ houses, etc.).

Both apps have some key differences as well.

Here’s a breakdown of the ways in which these two Family Safety Apps differ:

– Mamabear offers social media monitoring.  For example, with MamaBear a parent can receive alerts when a child makes a new friend on Facebook, follows someone new or uploads a photo on Instagram, gets tagged or @mentioned in a photo, message or at a location on Facebook or Instagram.  The restricted words list allows parents to be notified to words or phrases that are posted on their child’s Facebook or Instagram page. The list can include inappropriate language or words that may indicate bullying.

Related: Protecting Kids from Internet Stranger Danger

– MamaBear offers driving speed monitoring for teens. Parents receive an alert when their child drives or rides over a preset speed limit that tells them how fast they were going and where they were when they exceeded the preset limit. You can also view the child’s speeding history.

– MamaBear offers a custom child view. Kids can check in with parents with emoticons or send a quick “come get me” or “emergency” notification from a different view with a child profile log in.  Kids can also customize their view of the app with wallpaper selections.

– Life360 offers a premium version along with their free app. The premium version of Life360 comes with access to a 24/7 advisor connecting you to a real person who can direct emergency responders to your location, give you personalized crisis care, access your emergency profile, etc. The premium version of the app also includes stolen phone protection.

– Life360 has the same map view regardless of the family role as a child or parent allowing parents to share their location if they choose. The app also adds crime updates and sex offenders plotted on the map.

More recently, the app added “Circles,”  a feature to create custom groups of people to share location and messages.

Two great family safety apps with many different features filling different needs for families. Choose the right one for your family and let us know how it goes!

Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]
Life360 mobile App Archives

Apps, Tracking Devices and International Cell Phone Plans

After we decided we wanted to take an 8-month road trip across Central and South America, our families made it abundantly clear that we’d need to be accessible in the case of an emergency. But besides that, we needed to maintain a business from the road and we knew we'd want to stay connected to friends, family and yes… to social media.

The following post outlines the devices, apps and cellular provider we used to stay “plugged in” knowing we needed to consider not just the cities, but also all of those off-the-grid locations we’d put on our itinerary.

Talking and Texting in Central and South America

T-Mobile

We have been long time AT&T customers and we’ve loved our service with them. Living and traveling in North America has always been completely pain-free. Even traveling to Europe and the UK earlier this year was no problem with AT&T Passport. For $20 we were covered for the entire month and had unlimited texting. We didn’t get much data, but finding Wi-Fi in those large cities was no problem.

However, after comparing the plans and offerings of EVERY carrier I could find, it came down to one solution for long-term travel to our specific destinations: T-MOBILE. No questions asked. I saw their Simple Choice Plan offered UNLIMITED TEXTING AND DATA in every country we’d planned to visit. Phone calls were only $.20/minute after that. And all you have to do is pay for a monthly cell phone plan with them (at competitive rates, comparable to other providers). They’ll even let you use your current device (iPhone, Android, whatever – you’ll just need to “unlock” it first and that process depends on your provider).

Trust me, I didn't believe this either. “What’s the catch? No really… where are the hidden fees? So you’re saying I can leave my data roaming turned on when I’m hiking a mountain in the middle of Ecuador and I won’t be charged extra? I can watch Netflix from my phone, cruise Facebook, download Apps, text my friends, post to Instagram, and search for recipes online anytime I have LTE, 3G, 4G cell coverage and I wont be charged extra international fees?” CORRECT.

I calculated what I would spend using the other plans with enough data power to send 15 emails, download 1 app, watch a 2-minute video, and visit 8 websites each MONTH and it would cost me $625/month. That’s $5,000 for the duration of my 8-month trip ON TOP OF my regular cell phone bill and additional calls at $1/minute!! Absolutely not

I promise I don’t work for T-Mobile. I know the other providers offer exceptional service in North America (and I can’t speak for other parts of the world). All I know is that for an extended trip through THIS particular part of the world, T-Mobile was the ONLY option.

What’s App

With iMessaging and our new T-Mobile plans, we figured What’s App would be unnecessary, but we already had it on our phones from previous international trips and were glad we did. If you haven’t already heard of What’s App just know it’s a way to send text messages using Wi-Fi, so communicating for free via smart phone is no longer an international issue.

Apparently most of the world has come to realize this too, so everyone in Central and South America (from friends you meet to the tour guides in the area) use What’s App to communicate with tourists and other travelers. For instance, when booking the shipping container for our car, our customer service agent gave us her What’s App number so we could get in touch with her more easily. We continue to tell everyone we have regular texting but they seem to prefer What’s App anyway.

Maps and Navigation

Maps.me

This little gem saved our lives this trip and we didn’t even know about it until Guatemala. One of the travelers we met was shocked to find we didn't have it already and this information couldn't have come at a better time. We love our Garmin, don't get us wrong, but we’d just finished Mexico and were not confident we’d downloaded the Central and South America maps correctly... or at all. In other words, if we were in the mountains without 3G and couldn't use our iPhone maps, we’d be stuck on the side of the road unfolding large maps and asking for directions (remember those days?).

Maps.me is an application you can download to your device and it can locate your current position (I’m honestly still not sure how that’s possible) AND give you directions to your destination EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE INTERNET OR CELL PHONE SERVICE.

*Important: because it works off the grid, you DO have to pre-download the maps of the countries you plan to visit. To do this, simply enter a destination you’d like to visit and select “Start”. If you haven’t already downloaded the map for that specific country it will prompt you to do so – and it will require Wi-Fi or 3/4G.

Example: Type in “Casa Mariposa” (if you’re trying to find this particular hostel in Costa Rica) and then route the destination. A box will pop up that says “Costa Rica” with a button that says “Download Map” – just click that, wait a minute or two and you’re done!

Garmin

The upside to a good GPS system for your car (versus a handheld device) is being able to see the map while you’re driving. Garmin worked like a charm in Mexico and Tyler really enjoyed being able to SEE the road while the woman speaking gave him the directions. PLUS, if we ended up lost, it was “her” fault rather than the person who was reading the directions from the phone (aka, me).

The huge problem with Garmin is that you must PAY for each country you plan to visit. This isn’t unreasonable of Garmin, because it costs money to make the maps and they must be downloaded to the device. But for our 8-month road trip where we planned to visit 16 countries, we would have spent hundreds of dollars on maps alone. And that was simply not an option. So we started to research free map downloads compatible with Garmin and found this: Cycling About. But unless you’re incredibly tech-savvy, this is a VERY complicated process. We consider ourselves to be technologically inclined but I still have NO idea how to download free maps and transfer them to the Garmin device. Nothing about the process is clear (which is a good thing for Garmin). Even if it were clear, there’s not enough space on the device to hold both Central and South America entirely, so you have to buy extra space or store it on an external hard-drive and transfer the maps when you’re ready.

We didn’t exactly mention this part to our parents… but we had NO idea if our Garmin would work before we left. Driving into Guatemala, it had some trouble but we figured it out using our phones. So again, THANK GOODNESS we met fellow travelers when we did because being introduced to maps.me is the reason we’ve arrived at every destination since.

We will definitely go back to using our Garmin device when we tour the U.S. and Mexico. It’s nice to have something on the dash and the North America Maps are free when you purchase the device.

Location Tracking Applications

Find My Friends

We found this first and used it in the states. I think it began in college as a joke, for keeping track of friends while out drinking in unfamiliar cities ;) For this trip though, it's a good way to see your loved ones on a map. Find My Friends is a tracking device that shows you where your friend or family member is located and updates every few minutes. You just invite your friends and after they accept, you can view their location anytime. The only problem is that you have to be connected to Wi-Fi or have cell service (which unless you’re hiking a mountain or visiting some isolated location, is usually not a problem).

Life 360

Life 360 is almost exactly the same thing but we use it significantly more. The main reason is that not all of our family members had iPhones and the Find My Friends app isn’t available on all devices. Life 360 had good reviews and was available on both. For this one, you must create a group and then invite members to join.

The free option is fine and allows you to see the members of the group on a map, but we needed a little more. We wanted our family members to know when we arrived safely to our destinations and be able to track where we were going and where we had been.

For $2.99/month you can add specific destinations and (if the group members want to) they’ll receive notifications when you arrive or leave a certain radius of the parameter you set. This requires work on the traveler’s part but even the free version allows you to see when people from the group arrive at or leave their “home” (something you set up when you first download the App).

Going Off The Grid

SPOT Tracking Device

Our parents wanted to sleep at night. And despite considerable reassurance from us that our cell phones would operate normally across 16 different countries, we had to admit, certain places we planned to visit would NOT have cell towers or Wi-Fi. So when selecting a tracking device for our vehicle, we knew we needed something with satellite.

We reviewed many, but the SPOT Tracking Device was $100 (we didn’t want to go any higher), it had a long battery life, and it used satellite technology. We set it up online, added our parents to the email list and had everyone download the App.

For theft purposes, SPOT sends us an email immediately when the car moves. So assuming we’re connected to Wi-Fi or have cell tower coverage, we can know exactly when our car is moving and at what coordinates (great for times when we are sleeping or touring the city and have left our car alone). The device will track using satellite, but the notifications don’t come unless we have Wi-Fi… so while we may get updates a little late, our parents back in the States could check up on our location anytime they wanted. If they knew we planned to be off the grid, they could keep tabs on our location even if they couldn't talk to us.

We must admit that the usability and interface for the SPOT app, email system and website are a little more antiquated than our newer, more aesthetically pleasing Smart Phone Apps. BUT those Apps are less reliable than SPOT’s satellite technology. Not to mention, the customer service team emailed me personally within a week to ask how it was working and if they could be of service in any way.

ACR Locator Beacon 

We didn't end up going with the locator beacon because it was a out of our price range. BUT, if you want a PORTABLE tracking device that uses satellite technology (rather than limiting the satellite protection to your car), then the ACR beacon is your answer. In other words, if you're a big hiker and you know that you'll be off the grid for multi-day hiking excursions (especially unsupervised hikes NOT led by tour guides or outside of  national parks where you must register for permits and notify the rangers of your entry) then you DEFINITELY want to consider the beacon. Keep this guy in your backpack and if you're stuck somewhere, in danger, or fall off a cliff and break your arm (think 127 hours), just push a little button and a rescue team is on the way!

Summary

We definitely feel like we overdid it on the tracking devices but a lot of it had to do with our parents’ peace of mind. Now that we’re on the road, have somehow managed to stay alive, and are communicating with them frequently, we’ll have to ask for their opinion. You can’t put a price on the safety of your loved ones and if it made them happy, we were 100% willing to do it. Within a few weeks, their nerves had settled and they stopped checking up on us, just as we stopped checking in with them. I highly doubt our parents are still logging onto the SPOT website to view our location and we haven't touched Garmin since we got to Guatemala (so that’s almost $350 worth of tech we aren't using).

I think the most valuable assets are Life 360 and Maps.me (both free unless you decide to pay for the additional Life 360 capabilities). By the end of month 1 we stopped entering our destinations into the App but our parents continue to look at our location periodically because it's fun to see and it's easy to use. 

Do your research but be careful not to get overwhelmed. You can’t plan for everything and you’ll realize how resourceful you are once you’re on the road. If you wait until you have it all figured out you’ll never leave. Just be calm, stay safe, and use common sense.  

Meg (+Tyler)

Источник: [https://torrent-igruha.org/3551-portal.html]
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