parent opinion

Is it ever okay to track your kids? 21 women share their thoughts.

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk around the Mamamia office about phone tracking apps. Recently, we asked our community about the use of tracking apps in relationships. And this week, we are unpacking how parents feel about tracking their children.

In my family, we all voluntarily share our locations with each other. Each one of us has the ability to turn off location sharing at any time. 

For many people, this might be considered invasive. But for me, it helps calm my anxiety.

Watch: What life is like with or without your mobile phone. Post continues below.


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Over 20 years ago, I received a phone call to tell me that my partner had died in a workplace accident. It is up there as the single worst moment in my life. In the blink of an eye, my life changed forever.

I understand that knowing where he was, or where my family are now, will not protect them from anything bad happening.

But as a family, my husband and kids understand that I have anxiety around where people are and when they will arrive. It is a part of who I am.

When my loved ones tell me that they will be arriving at a certain time and they don’t, my brain doesn’t think, 'Oh, they must be running late or caught in traffic.' Instead, my brain automatically flies to the conclusion that they are dead. In fact, by the time my husband walks in the door five minutes later, I have his funeral planned and have worked out how I am going to tell the kids.

So, as a family, we discussed sharing our locations with each other. This helps calm my anxiety. If I get worried, I can have a little check and know everything is fine. 

I actually rarely use it. For me, it's just about peace of mind. 

Our kids also use it to locate my husband or I. When they wake up late on a Sunday morning and we aren’t home, they can check where we are. 

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Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.


We wanted to know how other parents feel about using tracking apps such as Find My iPhone and Life360 to locate their kids. 

Here's what they had to say:

"My kid isn’t old enough for me to have a desire to track her. But I would’ve been horrified if my parents tracked me and didn’t trust me to tell them what was happening or where I was going. But we have a pretty open family, and we talked about everything. Once we were adults (even when living at home), we had the freedom of being adults. We didn’t need to check in or tell our parents what we were doing."

"My fiancé and I recently turned on Find My iPhone for each other. It’s been handy when he’s been bike riding and on the phone to me and I can tell him where to go. We barely use it and it’s equal between us, but I can see how it could easily be used as a form of coercive control. In this day and age, I imagine we will have something similar set up when our daughter reaches an age that she’ll be alone. She’s two, so it's not something we’ve had to think about in detail yet."

"I would never track my husband and I've resisted tracking my kids. They need to feel I trust them and the world is mostly safe."

"We use it. I find it handy to check where my husband is in terms of what time he’s likely to get home from bike rides or work so I can plan what I’m doing. (We have young kids so I’m often waiting for him to get home so I can go out and do what I need to do). I have my kids' locations turned on for their iPads too. It's also turned on for my 12-year-old’s phone as he goes bike riding with friends. On a few occasions, he has run into some sort of trouble while bike riding and needed us to come get him."

"Yes, we all track each other. I find it most useful to know how long I can lie on the lounge before I need to start cooking tea. It's very handy to know where my 15-year-old son is. Not that I dont trust him, just bad things can happen. If there is a traffic accident, I can check where my kids are and know they are safe."

"I don't think I would have appreciated my parents tracking me. We just used to all leave notes for each other. If mum and dad left to go to the shops, they'd leave us a note. If I was staying at my boyfriend's place after uni, I'd leave a note. If we wanted follow-ups, we would just text. The only time I use tracking is when my friends are on Tinder dates with a new person for the first time, and they send me their location for safety reasons."

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"The danger in this is the issue of coercive control. If an adult is abusive, they can use it in a sinister way to track partners and children. It’s quite scary from that point of view. Abusers could exploit this technology."

"It doesn’t sit well with me. I am okay with it for children, but not partners. I don’t understand how it is safe - knowing where someone is doesn’t stop bad things from happening."

Image: Getty. 

"We have Life 360. We got it when the kids were younger. Two out of three kids are now adults, and it is still on their phones. My husband and I have it on our phones as well. We just find it very handy. There are no trust issues, its more convenience than anything else. My daughter texted me the other day to find out where I was, but I couldn't text her back as I was walking with the dog and it was pouring with rain. She was fine when I got home as she had looked on the tracker to see where I was, and as I was close to home, she just waited until I got back. Love it."

"From someone who found a tracker on their phone six months after separating, it's a big hell no from me. Kids yes, partners no."

"I’m the mum of four who wouldn’t be without it due to my husband's commitments as a specialist. He often forgets to let us know if he’ll be home for dinner/pickups/school. I'm not a regular user, but gosh it’s handy! It’s not for all - but there is a nuance in everything, and it’s a useful tool for us!"

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"I can see this being relevant for the kids when they start moving about more freely. As for my husband and I, I think we’d get bored if we actually checked up on our location... it’s so predictable that I could tell you exactly where he is!"

"As a family we use it. It notifies both my husband and myself when my children arrive at their respective schools as they make their own way there via bicycle. We openly discussed the tracking as a safety tool and my kids use it to see where I am and when I’m due home as I travel to another town for work." 

"We use Life360. My 11-year-old stalks me and messages me if I’m at McDonald’s." 

"I use Find My iPhone for my son's devices. This is for two reasons. Firstly, he is careless and leaves his stuff all over the place and it helps us find it. Secondly, when he’s at home by himself and not answering the phone, I can trigger the alarm on his devices to get his attention. I don’t use it to track him. I don’t use it for my husbands devices, nor he for mine. I couldn’t think of anything more intrusive. If I want to know where he is or when he’ll be home, I just ask."

"My daughter and I share locations on our phones. She’s in Year 7. She also loves being able to see where I am. If I’m running a little late, she just checks the map. It also comes in handy if her phone goes missing. We use Life360 but my husband and I don’t track each other’s phones."

"Everyone in my family has access to each other’s location through Find My Friends. I use it to make sure I don’t phone my kids while they are driving and to see that my husband’s still moving when he’s out long distance running. I once used it to track my daughter’s movements when she was in London during the London Bridge stabbing attack. I was able to see which tube stations were the safest. We also often use it to find each other in shopping centres."

"My parents tracked me when I was a kid! It was not a big deal but honestly, I would just switch off my phone if I didn’t want them to know where I was. 'It ran out of batteries' was a common lie."

Image: Getty. "If everyone agrees, I don’t see the issue. I track my 13-year-old as he has a fair amount of freedom, but with the condition that Life360 is on. My husband isn’t keen and I’m fine with that. I was a really anxious kid with severe separation anxiety... it would have saved me so much grief if I knew where my mum was."

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"We have everyone in the family on tracking. Adult children and younger teenagers and parents. It’s like Mrs Weasley’s clock!"

"We all share our location. It’s handy to see if the kids get to school safely and I can also see if my husband is stuck in traffic when prepping dinner."

For more on this topic:

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Confused about Snapchat? Unsure about TikTok? Meet the Safe on Social Toolkit: the digital ‘survival kit’ designed to arm parents with everything they need to know about keeping their kids safe online. Find out more now at www.safeonsocialtoolkit.com.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

You can also call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit www.safesteps.org.au for further information.

Feature Image: Getty.