Safe and Connected: 
A Parent’s Guide to Empowering Kids with Life360 Location Sharing.

By Michele Borba, Ed.D.Author of Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine

Two people sitting at a counter looking at a phone

In the midst of a rapidly changing world, characterized by a pandemic, gun violence, hate, and the looming threat of climate change, the well-being of our children is facing unprecedented challenges. The impact of these events on our youth’s mental health is undeniable. A staggering 53% of teenagers report increased thoughts about their personal safety and emotional well-being. A recent Harvard poll found that a shocking 48% of American youth aged 18 to 29 are feeling unsafe and anxious about their future.

In this era of uncertainty, one phenomenon has emerged as a lifeline for many – location sharing. The advent of location-sharing apps has given rise to a culture of safety among teens and young adults, who have come to rely on this added layer of security in their daily lives.

With over 60 million active users and steadily growing, Life360 is providing peace of mind and fostering connections for more than 1 in 9 US families.

A teen riding a bike with next to a statistic.

Notably, a recent survey conducted by Life360 revealed that Americans view location sharing positively, with 89% acknowledging its benefits, a figure that surges to an astounding 94% among Gen Z. This shift in priorities towards safety, particularly among the younger digital-native generation, underscores the significance of this cultural change.

How to Foster Confidence and Safety for Children

While we may not have the power to alter the broader cultural landscape, caring adults can play a crucial role in helping youth feel secure, confident, and thrive even in the face of uncertainty. Children require not only a safe, loving, and structured upbringing but also autonomy, competence, and agency to truly flourish. By utilizing Life360 and implementing effective parenting strategies, we can enhance trust, foster stronger relationships, nurture family connections, and raise resilient and thriving children. Here’s how we can achieve these goals.

Driving Safely:

Knowing your family’s location can be invaluable in crisis situations. Life360 provides an additional layer of preparedness for unexpected events

 – 87% of Generation Z respondents use the technology for long-distance driving.

– 80% use it when navigating new or potentially hazardous locations

If your teenager is hitting the road, the driving features of Life360 can be an invaluable resource.

A girl in the driver seat of a car looking back and smiling, next to a statistic.

Before your teen takes the wheel, engage in discussions about the dangers of distracted driving and instill the “3T Rule”: Never Text, Tap, or Talk on a digital device while driving. Emphasize the importance of wearing seat belts, following traffic rules, and knowing the route before starting the car engine. Modeling good driving behavior, such as obeying speed limits and wearing seat belts, speaks volumes to your child.

Personal Safety:

Location sharing can address various personal safety concerns. Emergencies, ensuring a child arrives safely at school, and traveling alone or abroad all top the list of appropriate uses of location sharing between parents and children. It’s essential to engage in open discussions with your teen about their specific safety concerns. For example, you might ask, “You seem hesitant about attending that party. What’s on your mind?” or “You’ll be leaving for your trip soon. What’s your biggest concern?” By actively listening to their worries, you can explain how Life360 can monitor their location and ease their anxiety. Collaboratively decide on the situations that warrant monitoring based on your child’s maturity level.

A teen walking in a parking garage while looking at her phone

Teaching personal safety equips children with the skills to navigate emergencies and seek assistance when needed. Encourage them to follow the S.O.S. Safety Skills framework:

S – Safety First: Ask yourself, “Could you or someone get hurt? Do I need an adult?” Teach your child that if there is a risk of harm or the potential for someone to get hurt, they should seek help immediately. It’s always better to prioritize safety over other considerations.

O – Assess Options: Encourage your child to assess their skills, options, and available resources when facing a challenging situation. They should consider what’s best for them and the circumstances or consult with someone they trust, such as a parent. Remind your child that if they need to, they can use the SOS function on the Life360 app which will dispatch emergency services and send a note to members of their circle.

S – Use Your Sense Detector: Remind your child to trust their intuition and instincts. Encourage them to listen to their gut feelings when making decisions in unfamiliar or potentially risky situations. These instincts are often reliable guides in times of uncertainty.
Additionally, inform your child that the location tracker can send alerts to first responders in the event of car crashes, providing an added layer of safety and assistance during emergencies.

Helping Children Manage Fears and Uncertainty

Building confidence, autonomy, independence, and self-regulation in children is a process that requires practice and perseverance. This journey can be uncomfortable, especially at the beginning, but it is essential to provide children with the tools they need to assess risks, confront new circumstances with confidence, and cope with situations beyond their control.


The first step in helping children manage their fears is to acknowledge and validate their worries. Avoid attempting to talk them out of irrational fears or belittling their concerns. Instead, remind them of past situations in which they were initially apprehensive but ultimately overcame their fears. Offer your unwavering support and assure them that you will work together to alleviate their fears.

A mother and daughter sitting on their front porch next to the daughter's backpack and lunchbox.

Chunk Fears:

Overprotecting children can hinder their confidence and their ability to confront challenges. Instead, identify their specific fears and introduce them in manageable doses. Gradually expose them to situations that trigger their apprehensions until they gain a sense of security and empowerment. For example, if a child fears dogs, start with interactions involving a small, calm dog or a toy dog and gradually progress to larger dogs.

Use Hopeful Mantras:

Words hold immense power. Help your child develop positive mantras, such as “I got this!” or “There’s always tomorrow,” to use during challenging times. Teach them how to use these phrases to counter pessimism and self-doubt. Consider adopting a family mantra, such as “We’re strong!” or “We can handle this!” These affirmations can become your child’s inner voice, guiding them through difficulties.

How to Foster Confidence and Safety for Children

Effective communication between parents and children is essential when it comes to location sharing. Ideally, important discussions should take place during calm, quiet moments, as these are more conducive to productive conversations. Emphasize transparency, collaboration, and trust as the cornerstones of your parent-child relationship.

Reassure and Encourage

Begin conversations by calmly reassuring your child that their well-being is your top priority.. Introduce location sharing as a tool that enhances family safety and can serve as their safety net when you’re not physically present. Highlight its usefulness for your children to track your location as well. If your kids experience anxiety about pickups from school or sports practice, they can utilize Life360 to monitor how far away you are.

A family of five standing around a phone at a kitchen counter.

Involve Kids in Decision-Making:

Optimal use of Life360 involves collaboration between parents and teenagers. Encourage your child’s active participation and emphasize that their opinions and preferences matter. Ask questions like, “What Place Alerts should we set up?” or  “When do you think it would be appropriate to use the Bubbles feature?” While some aspects may be non-negotiable, consider offering age-appropriate choices to give your child a sense of agency and inclusion.

Focus on Possible Outcomes:

Help your teenager think critically about the consequences of their decisions. Ask questions like, “What might happen if we turn off the location tracker?” Encourage them to weigh the pros and cons of various choices, such as, “What are all the good and bad things that could result from this decision?” Engaging them in this way helps them develop decision-making skills and understand the potential implications of their actions.

Set Boundaries and Build Trust:

It’s crucial to establish clear guidelines for using Life360 with your child before activating it. Distinguish between monitoring and snooping, emphasizing that your intent is to ensure their safety, not to invade their privacy. Make it clear that location tracking will occur and collaborate with your child to determine when and where it will be used. Periodically revisit your agreements to maintain open communication and trust within the parent-child relationship.

Life360: Covering All Aspects of Family Life 
and Safety

In addition to enhancing safety and tracking friends, location sharing through apps like Life360 can serve as a valuable tool for organizing family activities and strengthening bonds. However, when used as a collaborative effort between parents and children, location sharing can yield even more positive outcomes.

Decades of research consistently emphasize the paramount importance of the parent-child relationship. Creating a loving, supportive, yet firm and fair environment lays the foundation for children’s security, confidence, resilience, and agency. These qualities are the ultimate goals of location sharing.

During my interactions with families as part of my research for my book Thrivers, I heard numerous parents attest to the transformative impact of using location-sharing apps on their family dynamics. One mother shared that Life360 had rebuilt her child’s sense of security, alleviating his previous worries. A father from Minnesota witnessed his once-insecure child develop into a capable individual who could navigate life’s challenges. Another parent in New York found that location sharing had strengthened their relationship, with their daughter now relieved to know that her parents are tracking her when needed, and the parent can finally breathe easy, knowing their child is safe.

Life360 is a testament to the power of caring and staying connected with those we cherish the most. In an ever-changing world fraught with uncertainties, nothing matters more than the safety, well-being, and thriving of our children.

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