Smartphone tracking app Class120 detracts from college experience

By Opinions Editor

Helicopter parents no longer have to cease their over-involvement when dropping their children off at college—the smartphone application Class120 now allows parents to track whether their college kids are attending class.

Apps like Family Tracker, Find My Kids and Sygic Family Locator have allowed parents to track their children’s whereabouts for years. However, Class120 is specifically designed to allow parents to monitor college attendance. The app tracks students’ smartphone location—when they are not at the location of their class at the scheduled time, parents receive an email or text alert.

According to The Washington Post, 4,000 subscribers will be using Class120 this fall. The application is free to download, but subscriptions to the service cost $18 a month or $200 a year. In addition to their receiving notifications, a subscription allows parents to see data such as the percentage of classes attended or which classes are most frequently skipped.

Class120’s website states that 46 percent of students do not graduate within six years, which can partially be attributed to poor class attendance. A survey of 600 college students conducted by Class120 found students miss an average of 240 classes in four years of study. Drawing a correlation between college success and class attendance is fair. If students are frequently absent, it will be reflected in their grades.

However, the app has obvious technical flaws. The student’s smartphone has to be present in the classroom—not the student. Students could ask  friends to bring the phone along to class so that their parents do not know they are skipping.  Students with a jailbroken smartphone can download applications such as LocationFaker to change their location- and deceive their parents and Class120. Android users can easily do this by changing a few settings on their phones. 

Class120’s website also fails to mention that the application and its users effectively miss the entire point of going away to college‑learning to be self-reliant.

With rising tuition prices and increasing student debt, college is an investment for both parents and students. Parents who finance their children’s education may argue that because it is their money, they have a right to monitor class attendance. But for most students, college is their first time on their own and an opportunity to function as adults. A student’s  college readiness is typically measured academically through test scores and grades, rather than by responsibility and maturity. Parents may be inclined to watch over their children, even when they’re away at college. However, making poor decisions and suffering the consequences is part of the learning experience because, for the most part, consequences aren’t as severe as they would be in the real world.

Students who fail enough classes to face academic probation or flunk out are likely unprepared to go away to school in the first place. Some teenagers are not ready for the responsibility, and there is nothing wrong with that. Taking classes at a community college and working a part-time job can help them develop a work ethic and the maturity necessary for a successful collegiate experience.

Teaching children to set an alarm clock and go to class are skills parents help instill throughout middle and high school. Using a smartphone application to track college students’ class attendance is not an investment in their success—it only reflects a lack of trust in their maturity and hinders independence.