In recent months, two new phone apps that give parents more control over their teenagers’ lives have been released.
Mamabear is an app that was created to give parents an “all-in-one worry-free parenting” solution, providing the capability to continually track kids’ locations, driving habits, and social media interactions. Mamabear provides info on photo tags, mentions, and use of restricted words on a teen’s social media feeds. It allows parents to set a geographic fence and then sends an alert when a teen goes beyond the predetermined area. It also notifies parents when a teen driver exceeds a pre-configured speed limit.
Ignore No More is an app for parents whose kids refuse to return their calls. The app allows parents to lock their teens’ phones until kids call them back. When locked, the phone only allows a teen to call their parent (or other predetermined contacts) and 911. Everything else on the phone is disabled and inaccessible. When kids return their parents’ calls, mom or dad provides a password that unlocks the teen’s phone.
While these apps may provide helpful tools for parents who are experiencing a pattern of evasion or otherwise irresponsible behavior with their teens, they might also provide aspiring helicopter parents with the temptation to over-control their teens.
Questions for parents before using these apps:
• How much parental control is necessary for your teen?
• When does parental control become excessive to the point it prevents your child from becoming an independent, functioning adult?
• Has your teen demonstrated willful neglect of your expectations regarding whereabouts, driving habits, responding to your calls or texts, or smartphone and social media use?
• Will using these apps force your teen to depend on you in an unhealthy way?
• Will using these apps aid in or prevent your kids from experiencing the natural consequences of their behavior? Will they assist in or inhibit your teen from learning valuable life lessons?
• Will using these apps reduce your teen’s motivation to become an adult?
• For better or for worse, what messages will your teen receive about the issues of privacy, respect, trust, and responsibility if you use these apps?