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Sneaky Teenagers and Location Services

Posted on Friday, July 22, 2022
Raising a family of seven kids has always been a struggle. But with the help of my husband, it's been pretty easy until the last few years. The oldest child, the daughter, graduated and moved out almost six years ago. She's been doing pretty well on her own, minus the last two years where she has run into some trouble. The second oldest child, our star athlete boy, just moved out this summer. He's maintained a full-time job, while volunteering at the high school teaching younger kids' sports, as well as working small, temporary jobs. He's always maintained a 40-50-hour work week, even when attending school. Now the oldest at home just turned 18 this week. Getting this kid to even work 15 hours a week is nearly impossible - that is if he even shows up to work on time. All he wants to do is sleep, play video games and hang out with his friends. The lack of motivation boggles my mind. He has no desire to have a driver's license, hold down a job, or have money in his pocket. Many people say it's the new world we live in, but I know I raised my kids better than that - to always strive to better themselves!

About a year ago some friends suggested to us using an app called Life360. The free version is essentially a live GPS that you can track people in "your circle" and see where they are. It's been such a helpful tool for us to parent. Our oldest boy even has it with some of his closest friends so he can keep track of where they are (how cute!). We have two "circles" - one with our family (dad, mom and the two older boys) and then a "circle" for our "daughter" who has dubbed us her second parents. You can purchase an upgraded version that allows you to track speed, has crash detection and allows you to see movement further back.

It's always been helpful to be able to see where everyone is instead of calling them or messaging and waiting for a response. It's great for parents, and even groups of friends so they can see each other's locations with the click of a button. It's a fantastic tool for all parents, and I still recommend it - with one caveat. My 18-year-old has been turning his location off by using a back-end trick that doesn't notify us. Thus, allowing him to go wherever he wants when we are not home.

A quick little sideline back story here: We live in a not-so-great area, so we use a lot of home cameras. We have a Ring camera on the front porch overlooking the sidewalk, street and our front door. But I can be pretty lazy about making sure it's charged (if you are bad like me, I highly suggest getting a wired camera!) and we have some cameras that plug in around the back of the house overlooking the yard and back gate. And since we vacation so much, we have wireless cameras around the house so we can keep an eye on things and the animals. Not to mention all the dummy cameras laying around as well! We keep things pretty locked down around here, sometimes it feels like Alcatraz.

We heard a rumor that our kid was sneaking out when we were recently on an out-of-town trip. We didn't really believe it because we checked his location - until our "daughter" informed us a sneaky little hack that allowed someone to turn off their location and it pinged at the last place they were at - allowing them to do whatever they wanted. So, we checked the cameras. The Ring camera was dead, so that was useless. The camera on the back porch? Unplugged. Hmmmm. The wireless ones that were inside looked normal, but when we reviewed the footage, the camera facing the front door was flipped down or covered every once in a while. Gotcha. Even though his GPS pinged him at home, he was sneaking out with friends.

When confronted with this, he did admit to sneaking out and sneaking in a girl another day. Hey, raising teenagers is hard, and I am so thankful that when we confronted him, he admitted to what he had done - even though we had no proof. And we are dealing with that the best we can. It's hard to have a kid that's about to be on his own here soon, that's not even responsible enough to be left home alone for a weekend. Most of us are parents - some of us raising little ones, some of us raising teens and some of us with our kids grown up and gone. But the point of this little story, is I wanted to make other users aware of the Life360 app hack that my sneaky teen has been using.

Apparently in the Life360 app, you can turn off your location and it will ping you as active at the location you turned it off at. Upon further research, there are FIVE ways you can fake your location on Life360.
- Disable Circle's Location Sharing
- Turn On Airplane Mode
- Disable GPS Service on Your Device
- Delete Life360 Account
- Use Burner Phone
And you can make a fake location as well to hide your actual location.
Read into more detail here: https://www.fonegeek.com/change-location/turn-off-location-on-life360-without-anyone-knowing.html

Now I am not saying Life360 is not a helpful tool. It's been a wonderful parenting tool for us up until this time. If you trust your children not to turn off the locating services, I will still recommend this app. In fact, if you look back, I have always suggested this app! But now knowing the loopholes my son has been doing, it's time to look into something a little more secure. I wanted to make other parents aware that while they may think their child is always where they are supposed to be, there are hacks for them to be sneaky.
As always, talk with your children and be aware of the services you use and the loopholes that can be avoided. Being open and honest with your kids is the number one safety hack, but we understand that sometimes kids will be kids and be sneaky. It's up to you as the parent to make sure your children are safe.

More Resources
Life360 App
Best Real-Time Location Tracking Apps 2022
When Your Teen Sneaks Out of the House