Necessity is the mother of invention and a single mom of teen daughters needed to find a way to keep them safe while using their smartphones. To that end, she created an app called ParentBlocked, which does exactly as its name would suggest — stops teens from using their phones whenever a parent shuts it off. This may sound controlling, but as any adult who’s felt the temptation to text and drive can tell you, we shouldn’t take teens at their word when they say they won’t do it. This app could actually save lives.
Lisa Mullins had concerns over her daughter Madi’s constant use of her Smartphone. From Yahoo! Parenting, Mullins says, “It was a consistent issue. She’d be up in her room on FaceTime until 2 a.m. She’d be talking to her friends and downloading all these apps. She just would not put the phone down.” Her oldest daughter was 15 when Mullins had the revelation that she’d have her license inside of a year and became worried that her obsession could lead to Madi using her phone while driving.
That’s when Mullins decided to turn her concerns into a solution. And so, ParentBlocked was born. The app costs $1.99 a month and gives parents the ability to shut off certain smartphone capabilities while still allowing a teen to use their phone to text or call certain numbers. Mullins says, “The only other things out there were to block texting and driving, but there’s still so much that kids do on their phones: camera, Instagram, Internet.”
While Mullins wanted the option to shut off apps as a means of punishment while still allowing her daughters to call or text in case of emergency, no such app existed until she created it. ParentBlocked is unique as it gives parents control over which apps to shut off, whether a teen can call or text, as well as the option to disallow texting once a vehicle goes over 10 mph.
According to research by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future, 18% of those surveyed said they “cannot resist the urge to send or check online messages while driving.” This was a survey of adults, so imagine how those numbers would be different for teens. While we want to trust our kids and give them a certain amount of agency over their decisions, we also want them safe. I consider myself a responsible adult and even I sometimes can’t resist glancing at a notification on my phone while sitting in traffic. I don’t text, but at times, I want to. We all know that if smartphones were a thing when we were teens, we probably would’ve used them while driving. Our kids probably will too.
The fact is, this generation has access to everything in one tiny device. Knowing how tempting it is even for some adults to resist the urge to use their phones while driving, we need to acknowledge that our teens could be at risk unless we stop them. This is not an app to spy on kids and read all their texts, it simply keeps them safe while they should be focused on the road. And what parent wouldn’t want that? If you believe your teen will never use their phone while driving, that might be true. But for parents who are afraid of that happening, apps like this could be a great way to ease their fears.