Students learn to bypass tracking apps

Bailey Kirkeby, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Although helicopter parents typically have pure intentions when attempting to track their kids through applications such as Life360 and Apple’s Find My Friends, some teens seek ways to trick these location trackers to elude their parents’ ever-watchful eyes.

According to the Life360 website, the simplest way to avoid location tracking is by logging out or uninstalling the app.  However, this method may pose risks for teens; by logging of the app, parents can see their child’s last known location, and an alert flag indicates that the child has logged out of or uninstalled the app, which remains until the child reenters the app.

Due to the potential for parents to see that their child has turned off Life360, the app’s website suggests that teens can acquire a second “burner” phone — on which they can download Life360 — and leave this phone in the location they’re supposed to be.  Unfortunately, not only are most teens economically dependent on their parents, but the benefits of acquiring a second phone to avoid being tracked do not outweigh the costs. However, if teens have a second preexisting smart device, such as a tablet, they can follow this method and download the Life360 app on their secondary device.

Another method for teens to spoof their location is to download an app that allows users to set their location to wherever they want.  Android smartphones are highly configurable, so teens hoping to avoid being tracked can download a fake GPS app and make a few changes to their phone’s settings (how-to guides are readily available online).  

iPhones are less configurable, so teens with this device will have more trouble spoofing their location.  At the time of publication, the only known way to change an iPhone’s location is to download iTools, a $30.95 desktop app, connect the iPhone to the computer and set location through the desktop app.  However, the phone has to stay connected to the computer to maintain this false location, so teens will be unable to bring their phone when they sneak off to mysterious locations.