Many South African families are downloading a location-tracking app named Life360 in an effort to keep their loved ones safe.
Crime is a serious problem in South Africa, and many people are stepping up their personal safety or simply emigrating to escape the growing danger.
There have been numerous apps and smartphone features which have gained popularity among South Africans as a result.
This includes emergency SOS apps, watchdog WhatsApp groups, and location tracking applications.
The latter option comes at the cost of privacy, however, but users are happy to sacrifice this in order to feel safer when travelling or out of the house.
Life360 is a location-tracking app available for Android and iOS which is designed to help families stay in touch and monitor each others’ activity.
The app’s features can be cranked up to a high level of monitoring, providing other members with information on how fast they are moving, delivering alerts when they arrive at certain locations, and recording location history to provide a map of their behaviour.
Life360 also includes crash detection, which can automatically call an ambulance to your location, as well as in-app chat features.
The testimonials on Life360’s website are filled with stories of concerned parents describing how the application helped them to monitor their children’s’ whereabouts and deliver help when needed.
There are various tiers available to users, ranging from a free plan with two place alerts and two days of history, to a $7.99-per-month package with unlimited place alerts and 30 days of location history.
Concerns in South Africa
From speaking to users of the app in South Africa, it is apparent that many parents would gladly forgo location privacy in favour of knowing they are safe.
By adding their family members to the Life360 app, parents can keep an eye on their children and quickly react to any events or warn them against visiting certain locations.
Of course, this makes it impossible for teenagers or young adults to sneak out anywhere without their parents knowing, but this was not a problem for the people we spoke to.
Many users said the feeling of comfort provided by knowing where their loved ones were at all times far outweighed any misgivings over privacy.
The feature list of the app is undoubtedly “creepy” when perceived from a data collection perspective, but when considering the dangers of South African roads and the prevalence of violent crime, it is understandable why families are using every tool available to stay safe.
As a family member using the Life360 app, you won’t ever be able to visit any place without your family enquiring why you are there, but you also will never need to explain your surroundings in the event of a car accident or a hijacking.