Editor's Note

Staff Shorts are tidbit writings by our editorial board. They’re mostly meant to be light-hearted, but we sometimes touch on more serious, important topics. They aim to express the many student voices of the University.

While college students are young and bound to make an incredible amount of mistakes, they’re also adults.

Apple allows location sharing over iMessage.

Apple allows location sharing over iMessage.

Some take to this easier than others; some don’t exactly mesh with any perceptions of “maturity.” Regardless, no one is doing them any favors by treating them less than adults. 

There’s a rising trend of parents using tracking apps to monitor their students, which creates a layer of surveillance over students that is counterproductive, as it hinders a students development. Imagine you have helicopter parents. About a decade ago, this would have usually meant a student calls or texts their parents frequently. The development of mobile technology has allowed helicopter parents to segue into stalkers. 

Take a look at Life360. In Apple’s App Store, it’s ranked No. 5 (meaning many, many people have this app). It allows parents to see where students are, how fast they’re driving, and it events lets the parents know when they turn off the tracking. Imagine being college-aged and having to justify your location at every minute? (Some reading this won’t even have to imagine.) Such monitoring practices puts a damper on students’ ability to freely pursue their interests. West Virginia – and especially Morgantown – is wild and wonderful. It should be explored without constant messages of parents inquiring about your location. 

As pointed out by an article published online by The Washington Post on Tuesday, this does happen. It mentions a post on the Reddit board r/insaneparents that was titled “18m in college.”

Posted on Sept. 19, it shows the alleged screenshots one Reddit user received from his mom.

“Don’t leave campus,” the mom texted her son. “Set your Life360 location permissions to 

‘Always’ for Life360 to work correctly.”

“That’s what it’s set to,” the son texted back.

“I just got a notification you turned your location off,” the mom wrote. “Turn it back on please.”

This post has more than 33 thousand upvotes, which is a fairly large amount for the platform, and it’s one example of many of the surveillance abuse parents have at their disposal.

Sure, apps like Life360 can be used for safety purposes. But, as  Stacey Steinberg, a University of Florida law professor who has studied how technology impacts raising families and privacy, pointed out in The Post’s article, “Kids need autonomy from their parents, especially when they reach adulthood.”

“If we want our kids to trust us, if we want our kids to believe they are capable of making wise decisions, then our actions need to show it. Valuing their privacy is one way to do so,” Steingburg said in the article.