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As a parent to a teenager, you might frequently find yourself thinking: “How can I track my child’s location without them knowing?”. Your teen may be rebellious and sensitive about their privacy at the same time. So, you may often find yourself in a situation where they don’t abide by your rules (like curfew and such), and neither will tolerate you asking them where they’ve spent the night. This is exactly the point when you wish you could know their whereabouts without having to ask them and risk getting into a hassle; hence the thought of secretly tracking their location. 

On the other hand, you may still have doubts about tracking your child without their knowledge, as you don’t like the thought of invading their privacy either. If you’re still unsure, this article can help clear things up for you. Keep on reading to decide whether to do this and how. 

  

Why Would You Track Your Kid’s Location? 

Although we can’t advise you to go down this road, there are a few reasons why you may want to track your child’s location without them knowing about it; most reasonable of which are listed below: 

  

To keep them safe from stalkers and kidnappers 

Yes, there are stalkers out there who act on their intention to kidnap children. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not trying to scare you or anything, but the fact of the matter is about eight million kids get abducted around the world each year. And even one is one too many. So, if you’re the kind of parent who constantly worries about stalkers and kidnappers, you’ll probably want to track your kid’s location. Just remember not to get carried away or burden your child with it. 

  

In case they disappear or don’t answer their phone for an extended time period 

It is every parent’s nightmare to go into their child’s bedroom at night to check on them, and not find them under the covers where they had been safely tucked. Has your kid also disappeared for a night, not answering their phone, getting you more worried by the hour? Not to worry. It just so happens that teens can often be unavailable out of sheer carelessness and irresponsibility, or simply because they’re having fun at some party. 

By being able to track their phone in such scenarios, you can have peace of mind that they’re not anywhere in danger at least. You can talk to them about the importance of being available to you when they get back home safely. 

  

If they’re in recovery from a drug/alcohol addiction 

The prevalence of drug/alcohol addiction is a serious issue among teens. If you were lucky enough to find out about your child’s problem before it’s too late and get them into rehab, you probably want to make sure they don’t relapse. Recovering addicts need intensive monitoring for a while, especially if they’re young. They quickly learn to get sneaky about their substance abuse, so you need to be able to locate them at any given time to ensure they’re not using again. 

  

If they repeatedly sneak out, break curfew, or refuse to be grounded 

Your kid might be one of the more rebellious ones who keeps breaking curfew, not giving you any explanations or even excuses for coming home late. They might even refuse to be grounded and come and go as they please, with total disregard for the rules you set. Or if they’re more discreet, they might just sneak out every now and then. 

In this case, it’s only natural for you to wonder where they’ve been, and what they’ve been up to. Rebellious teens leave parents no choice but to resort to more strict ways. So, we understand if you try to keep track of their location, just to be certain they’re not harming themselves or anyone else. 

  

If they’re excessively secretive or aggressive 

Is your teenage kid not a sharer? Are they extremely secretive, and deliberately hide certain aspects of their life from you, which can ultimately put them in danger? Or do they blow a fuse whenever you ask them a simple question about where they’ve been? Either issue might get you to try a different, more subtle approach to get a straightforward answer or avoid conflict. Secretly tracking their location can be an easy, albeit still problematic, option to find out your kid’s whereabouts. 

  

How Can You Track Your Kid’s Location?

There are a few ways you can find your child’s whereabouts through their cell phone, the most practical of which are listed below: 

  

Through Find My Phone 

Find My Phone is a feature available on both iPhones and Android phones. It can help you find your kid, but since it was originally made to help find your lost/stolen phone, it’s not entirely effective. Here’s why: 

  1. Your child can easily disable this feature or turn off their phone’s GPS to keep you from tracking their location. 
  2. In order to use Find My Phone to track your child, you need to have access to your kid’s iCloud or Google Account. 

  

On iPhone 

If you turn on Find My on your child’s iPhone, you can locate their device even if it’s not connected to cellular data or WiFi. To locate your child’s iPhone on a map, follow the steps below: 

  1. Open the Find My app 
  2. Select the Devices or Items tab. 
  3. Choose your child’s iPhone to locate it on the map 
  4. Choose Directions to open its location in Maps. 

If you’re unable to locate your child’s device, it might be because: 

  1. your child may have turned off Find My on their phone 
  2. it’s been more than seven days since their device’s last location was sent to Apple 

If you’re using iCloud.com/find to locate your child, you should take into account that their iPhone can’t be located if: 

  1. its battery has run out 
  2. it’s powered off 
  3. it’s been more than 24 hours since its last location was sent to Apple 

NOTE: Keep in mind that if your child has access to their Find My app, they can view the devices able to locate their phone. So, if you’re trying to locate their phone without them knowing about it, you have to make sure they can’t open their Find My. 

  

On Android Phones 

To locate your child’s Android phone through Find My Phone, their device must: 

  • be turned on 
  • be signed in to a Google Account 
  • be connected to cellular data or WiFi 
  • be visible on Google Play 
  • have Location turned on 
  • have Find My Device turned on 

  

To locate your child’s Android phone through Find My Phone, follow the steps below: 

  1. Go to android.com/find 
  2. Sign in to your child’s Google Account 
  3. Select your child’s phone 
  4. See your child’s location on the map (if their phone can’t be found, their last known location is shown instead.) 

  

However, you should take into account that: 

  1. the location shown to you is approximate, so it might not be completely accurate 
  2. Your child receives a notification on their phone when you try to find them this way, so you probably can’t hide it from them 

  

Through Family Sharing (iPhone) 

You can also find your child’s location in your Family Sharing group, provided you’ve already turned on their location sharing. Family Sharing also enables you to get notified when your child changes their location. On your child’s iPhone, follow these steps: 

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions 
  2. Turn on Content & Privacy Restrictions 
  3. Tap Location Services 
  4. Set up/enter your chosen Screen Time passcode  
  5. Turn on Location Services 
  6. Tap Share My Location 
  7. Turn on Share My Location 
  8. Go back to Location Services 
  9. Select Don’t Allow Changes 

How to turn on Location Services on iPhone

After that, you can see your child’s location in your Family Sharing group (provided they’re added to the group). 

Screenshot of Apple’s Family Sharing showing family members’ location

However, if your child is thirteen years old and above, they can choose not to share their location with you. But by setting a passcode on their Screen Time, you can keep them from changing your preferred location-sharing settings. 

  

Through Family Link (Android Phones) 

Once you turn on location sharing on your child’s phone, you’ll be able to find their whereabouts through the Family Link app. Here’s how you can enable location-sharing settings: 

  1. Open the Family Link app 
  2. Tap Location 
  3. Tap Set up 
  4. Select your child’s device 
  5. Tap Turn on 

  

To change your child’s location settings, follow the steps below: 

  1. Open the Family Link app 
  2. Tap Location 
  3. Select your child 
  4. Choose More Location Settings at the top right 
  5. Turn See Your Child’s Location on or off 

  

To increase the accuracy of your child’s location, follow these steps: 

  1. Open the Family Link app 
  2. Tap Location 
  3. Select your child 
  4. Tap More Location Settings at the top right 
  5. Select your child’s device 
  6. Select High Accuracy 

NOTE: Kids over the age of thirteen can change their location settings, so you couldn’t find their whereabouts. 

  

Through Google Maps 

If you’d like to use Google Maps to secretly track your child’s phone, you need to get ahold of their phone first. Then, you can change Google Maps settings to share your child’s location with you. It can be difficult to unlock your child’s phone to do this without their permission, however. 

To have Google Maps share your kid’s location with you, you must: 

  1. Open Google Maps on your child’s phone 
  2. Go to Menu > Location Sharing 
  3. Enable “Share your real-time location until you turn this off” 
  4. Select your own device to receive the location 

  

Through Your Cell Carrier 

Many cell carriers have family location-sharing services you can use to find your kid. you can access your child’s location data on your phone, tablet, and other devices. These carriers offer you different plans based on your needs. Some of the most popular cell providers that offer location services include: 

  • T-Mobile 
  • Verizon 
  • AT&T 
  • Sprint 

  

Through Spy Apps 

If you’re determined to keep tracking your child’s location a secret from them, there are various spy apps that can help you. These apps supposedly work on both iPhones and Android phones, but they usually require you to root or jailbreak your child’s phone, which can be fairly tricky. also, you need to install a version of these apps on your kid’s phone. Even if you pull that off without them finding out, they most probably will eventually. This isn’t a very safe way to go, and it can also damage your relationship with your kid. 

However, if you’ve set your mind to it, here are some of the best spy apps around: 

  • mSpy  
  • Spyera 
  • MobileSpy 
  • Minspy 
  • Mobistealth 
  • uMobix 
  • Spyic 

  

Through Parental Control Apps 

Unlike Google’s Family Link, which allows your child to disable many parental control features after turning thirteen, you can still keep track of your teenager’s whereabouts with parental control apps like Safes. You won’t have to resort to spy apps just to know where your child is either. You could also use other location-tracking apps, but they lack many of the features a parental control app can provide you with. If you ask us, using parental control apps is your best option. 

Both child psychologists and educators agree that having an open talk with your kid about safety issues is a much healthier approach than invading their privacy. If you want your child to grow up developing healthy boundaries, you really shouldn’t be the one to cross them. 

Even with safety issues like knowing where they are, going behind your child’s back should never be your first option or even your second for that matter. Even if your kid has broken curfew a couple of times, give them a chance to correct their behavior first by letting them know how and why the rules you set are important. If they keep breaking the rules and getting into trouble, only then should you consider extreme measures like invading their privacy, which is neither healthy nor ethical. 

Explain to them why you think parental control apps are a good choice for you both, as opposed to other options. And that these apps respect both parties’ boundaries, not violating your child’s privacy, all the while assuring you that they’re safe and sound. 

  

FAQ 

  

Can I track my child’s phone without them knowing for free?

Yes, you can. However, you will need to have access to their phone to manipulate their Google Maps or Screen Time settings so their location would be shared with you wherever they go. But as you know, teenagers don’t usually leave their phones out of their sight or unlocked for that matter. 

  

How do I track my daughter’s iPhone location?

You can track your daughter’s iPhone location by using parental control apps, using Apple’s built-in Screen Time and Family Sharing, the Find My app, spy apps, and your mobile provider’s family location-sharing services. 

  

How can you track your child’s Android phone for free? 

You can use Google Maps, Google Family Link, and the Find My Phone feature to track the location of your child’s Android phone free of charge. 

Mahsa V.

Mahsa V.

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