Skip to content

How to Track Someone on Google Maps Without Them Knowing in 2023

As a concerned parent, you may have wondered if it‘s possible to covertly monitor your child‘s location and movements using Google Maps. With the right tools and techniques, you can in fact track someone on Google Maps without their knowledge. However, this raises significant ethical dilemmas that parents should carefully consider before taking action.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore some effective methods parents could utilize to monitor a child‘s location if they have valid safety concerns. We‘ll also take an in-depth look at the ethical and legal risks involved with covert tracking, and how parents can use location data responsibly if access is truly needed to protect their child based on their maturity level and circumstances.

Why Parents May Want Covert Location Tracking

It‘s understandable why many parents want the ability to monitor their child‘s location, especially that of younger teens who are just gaining independence. Some valid reasons and concerns include:

  • Ensuring they are where they say they‘ll be and not sneaking off.
  • Monitoring who they are spending time with if worried about bad influences.
  • Making sure they are not in unsafe areas or situations.
  • Quickly locating them if they are out past curfew or do not come home.

According to a 2022 survey by SafeWise, 73% of parents use location tracking on their child‘s phone for safety reasons. Additionally, Pew Research found 79% of parents with teens felt tracking made parenting easier.

However, these statistics also show covert tracking without the child‘s knowledge is happening in many households. Let‘s look at how this is made possible with Google Maps.

How Google Maps Enables Location Tracking

Google Maps has powerful capabilities that allow you to view both someone‘s past location history and their live real-time location. Here‘s an overview:

Location History

This Maps feature records and stores all of the places a Google account holder has been, creating a complete timeline of their movements. As a parent with access to your child‘s Google account, you can view:

  • All addresses, businesses and venues visited by your child, with exact timestamps.
  • The routes and paths taken to get to each destination.
  • How long they spent at each location.

With just a few taps, you can essentially replay your child‘s entire day and see everywhere they went. A 2018 study showed around 2/3 of Google Maps users have Location History enabled without realizing it.

Real-Time Location Sharing

Maps also lets you actively share your live location with someone else in real-time. They can then monitor your location continuously as you move around, with updates every few minutes.

You can choose how long to share (15 min, 1 hour, until you turn off, etc.) and set the location accuracy from precise GPS to approximate city-level.

So if you were to enable this on your child‘s device secretly, you could track their live movements all day if desired.

Using Spy Apps to Track Someone Covertly

Spy and tracking apps take covert monitoring much further. Once installed on your child‘s smartphone, they run silently in the background gathering extensive data including:

Detailed Location Tracking

  • Pinpoint real-time location displayed on a map with exact GPS coordinates.
  • Historic timeline of everywhere the phone has been with timestamps.
  • Addresses, routes, and time spent at each place.
  • Geofencing and alerts when your child enters or leaves set areas.

Additional Monitoring Features

  • Listen to phone calls and ambient surroundings.
  • View text messages, chat logs, emails, and social media messages.
  • Access photos, videos, and files on the phone.
  • See browsing history and installed apps.
  • Remotely control the phone.

Some of the most full-featured phone spying apps include Spyic, mSpy, and FlexiSPY. For example, mSpy charges $199 yearly for its advanced monitoring package.

While incredibly powerful, these apps require you to access your child‘s phone to install them and have raised significant controversies around violating personal privacy.

Less Invasive Tracking Methods

Before resorting to full-fledged spy apps, concerned parents do have some less invasive options that utilize standard Google Maps tools:

Share Location Directly in Maps

Use the built-in location sharing in Maps as outlined above. While limited compared to complete history access, it allows short-term tracking without app installs. You can secretly enable it on their device or share your location and have them reciprocate.

View Location History and Timeline

If you have your child‘s Google password, log into their account on your phone or computer and view their location history. You can see where they‘ve been over any time period. Just ensure you log out after.

WhatsApp Live Location Sharing

WhatsApp has a live location sharing feature that is easy to enable for your child‘s contacts. It only provides temporary real-time tracking, but gives their location on a map that you can save screenshots of.

These approaches provide less detailed tracking data than spy apps, but are simpler to set up without touching your child‘s device and don‘t leave obvious traces. The next section will explore the significant ethical and legal concerns all parents should keep in mind before tracking a child‘s location covertly.

Navigating the Ethical and Legal Issues Around Covert Tracking

While the ability to monitor your child‘s movements without their knowledge does exist, this raises several ethical and legal dilemmas that parents must carefully weigh:

Preserving Trust and Openness

Tracking a child covertly behind their back damages trust and openness vital to a healthy parent-child relationship. It teaches kids to hide their activities and resent authority instead of behaving appropriately even when not monitored.

Respecting Growing Independence

As children reach middle and high school age, covert tracking fails to respect their growing need for independence and privacy. Allowing some freedom helps kids learn responsibility and self-sufficiency.

Considering Legal Risks

In some states, unauthorized location tracking can potentially violate laws against illegal surveillance, wiretapping, or invading privacy rights. Parents could face civil lawsuits or even criminal charges in extreme cases.

Determining When Tracking is Justified

Cases of serious safety concerns like a child mingling with criminals, doing drugs, or engaging in truly reckless behavior may warrant covert tracking only as a last resort. But in most ordinary circumstances, the ethical and legal risks outweigh the benefits.

How Long Should Tracking Last

Continuous covert tracking that goes on for months or years, rather than short-term in a crisis, almost never leads to positive outcomes and destroys trust. Parents should determine an appropriate limited duration based on the situation.

Preserving Security and Privacy

If covert tracking is deemed absolutely necessary, parents have an obligation to keep the location data secure and private. It should only be used for legitimate safety purposes and not shared or exploited otherwise. Records should be deleted after the risk subsides.

Using Location Tracking Ethically and Responsibly

If you determine that covertly tracking your child‘s location is truly needed and justified for a compelling safety reason, here are some tips to utilize the capabilities ethically:

  • First have an open conversation explaining your concerns and giving them a chance to address issues voluntarily and regain trust.

  • Enable only the most basic necessary tracking capabilities needed to confirm your child‘s safety, not every possible feature. Limit tracking to high-risk periods if possible.

  • Pick unobtrusive methods like viewing their location history rather than spy apps if adequate. Or use built-in sharing features for short term needs.

  • Reassure your child that tracking is not intended to punish them, but to keep them safe. Let them know it‘s temporary and will be stopped when issues resolve.

  • Avoid constant monitoring and give them privacy at home, with friends, and in ordinary circumstances. Focus tracking on cases of reasonable suspicion of danger.

  • As your child matures, communicate with them openly to rebuild trust. Gradually lift tracking as they demonstrate responsibility. Respect their emerging independence.

  • Above all, use any location data obtained responsibly for safety purposes only. Never exploit the information to embarrass or manipulate your child. And keep their data completely confidential.

Conclusion

Covert tracking of a child using Google Maps does raise profound ethical and legal issues. Still, in certain compelling cases, a concerned parent may determine that basic access to a child‘s location is unfortunately needed based on their maturity level and specific risky behaviors.

If you reach this conclusion after careful thought, focus on only tracking as much as is absolutely necessary for safety for a limited time period. And make sure to have open and honest conversations to preserve trust and respect your child‘s independence. Location access should always be used ethically and kept completely confidential.

With care and discretion, some basic location monitoring can give parents assurance their child is protected when truly at-risk. But continuous covert surveillance, maximum data gathering, and failing to discuss concerns are almost never the answer – and can do real psychological and relationship damage.

By understanding the capabilities, ethical dilemmas and setting appropriate limits, parents can find the right balance of safety and independence as their children navigate growing up.

nv-author-image

Michael

Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.