- At age 15, I asked my parents to set up a tracker on my phone so they could know where I was.
- It made our relationship better – I had nothing to hide from them, and I felt safer.
- The tracker is still on my phone, even now that I’m in my 20s and live with my boyfriend.
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I spent my adolescence in a suburban town outside Orlando, Florida. I was friends with the outcasts, the emos, the burnouts, and everyone in between.
I hung out with people my own age – but also people in their 20s. Looking back, it’s terrifying that these 20-somethings wanted to hang out with a group of 15-year-old girls.
I liked to party, go on late-night adventures, and do all the things a typical teenager loves. But a lot of the people in my crowd were heavy drug users. About two months into hanging out with this group every day, I felt unsafe.
I was afraid of the older men, along with one of my friends possibly overdosing. I grew up watching true-crime shows with my grandmother, which made me paranoid. I’d heard of girls my age and younger going missing without a trace – girls who trusted people their age or older, only to vanish. Nothing scared me more than that prospect.
Using a phone tracker was my idea
I remember sitting on the floor wrapped up in a blanket as my parents watched a rerun of “The Dick van Dyke Show.” I asked them to pause so I could say something. I could tell they were expecting the worst, but their eyes lit up when I asked them, “Can we put a tracker on my phone?“
They looked at each other before looking back at me. My mom said: “Um, of course. What brought this up?”
I told them some of the truth. My parents had no idea who I was hanging with, the things these people had done, and what situations I was getting into. I was tired of feeling scared and on edge while I should’ve been having fun in my teen years. I just wanted to feel safe and have some shred of independence at the same time.
My parents have always been quite paranoid, to say the least. They often worried I’d get kidnapped.
Once, when I was 12 years old, I called them while I was in line for a ride at the local amusement park with my best friend. When I didn’t get a response, I reminded myself to call them after the ride. I looked at my phone when we got off and found over 20 missed calls and 140 text messages, one of which said the police were looking for me. My parents had assumed that I was in danger and that that’s why I hadn’t left a voicemail.
So with no hesitation, we set up the tracker.
We chose Life360, which allows people in your selected group to see where you are. It also has an SOS button you can tap when you’re in danger that pings your group, your emergency contacts, and the police with your exact location.
I’ve had the tracker on my phone for almost eight years now.
It improved my relationship with my parents
Shockingly, we argued a lot less after the tracker was installed. It gave us all the peace of mind we needed. I figured I’d get text messages saying, “Why have you been in this spot for 30 minutes? Who’s with you?” But it wasn’t like that. I was honest with them, and they were with me.
We have a saying in my family: “I’d rather be paranoid than oblivious. Always be aware.”
I didn’t tell anyone else about the tracker on my phone. I wasn’t embarrassed. I just didn’t want people to use it against me.
I’ve never regretted having that tracker on my phone. I’ve found myself in so many potentially dangerous situations over the years, like when a friend and I got in a stranger’s car for a ride home. It was comforting that someone knew where I was.
I’m now in my 20s, living in a safe neighborhood with my boyfriend. The tracker is still on my phone, and it still gives me a sense of safety.