Shhh, here’s the secret to Mom and Dad’s peace of mind.
The first time my then-12-year-old daughter rode the subway by herself to school, I was a total wreck. She had practiced several times with her dad sitting halfway down the subway car (close enough to keep an eye on her, but far enough away for her friends not to see him), and she was a smart, mature kid riding the train with dozens of other kids from her school. But how was I to know if she got there safely?
I worried for the entire 30 minutes it took her to arrive at school that day, up until the moment she texted me she was fine. Then I worried every morning for the next week, until I made the most amazing discovery: I could watch her from my phone.
Since my kids both share an Apple account with me, I can literally follow them as they walk down the street or through the halls of school by tracking them on Find My iPhone—and it has saved my sanity on multiple occasions. My teen daughter is running late coming back from her friend’s house? I just click on the app and see the little green dot moving down the street and I can tell whether she’s just a few minutes away from home, at her friend’s house, or somewhere in between.
Some might call this stalking, but I prefer to think of it as concerned parenting. And I am far from the only one.
“Part of the deal we made when we got my kids iPhones when they were 12 was that if they don’t answer texts, I can track them,” says Andrew, a dad of two teens in California. Amen, Andrew. I don’t follow my kids all day long (I do have a life and a job!), but they know that as long as I’m paying for their phones, I have the right to track them at any time.
Chris, another California dad, points out that the app comes in extremely handy now that his son is driving. “I’ll check on him if it's getting late at night and he's still not home,” Chris explains. “If he’s staying overnight at a friend's house, I sometimes check to make sure he's safe—I once caught him out at 2 in the morning with a friend getting chicken and waffles.”
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Sheri, a Long Island mom, finds the app indispensable when she’s at work and her two boys, ages 11 and 16, are hanging out at home over the summer. “They love going to the park to play ball, and sometimes they walk further to the pizza place or library—far away enough for it to be a little out of my comfort zone,” she says. “They’re pretty good at calling and checking in, but if they’re playing ball they might not answer, and I like to know how far they are so I can plan dinner! It’s about letting them have independence, but at the same time staying safe and not rattling my nerves.”
There are, of course, other apps that can track your kids—one mom I know swears by Life 360, a location services app that includes messaging features. But I’m partial to the one that came with my phone. And this summer I found a sweet benefit to the app. My daughter is traveling with her camp and, every once in a while, when I’m missing her, I will tap on her name on the app and see that little green dot in the middle of a foreign city and feel a tiny bit closer—and I can breathe a little easier.