If you have not seen it yet you are probably at this point in the minority. The “IT” is a story about the mother of a teenager in Houston, TX who was frustrated about her son’s inability to respond to her inquiries about his whereabouts or status, literally and figuratively took matters into her own hands and created the “Ignore No More” app.
The app does precisely what you think it does and actually a bit more. Currently available for Android (News - Alert) devices and soon to be for iPhones, the app allows parents to remotely freeze the use of their children’s smartphones. You read correctly, i.e., a non-responsive offspring can no longer ignore you.
The reason, as shown in the embedded video of an interview by Houston’s ABC TV affiliate KTRK (Channel 13), is simple. Once a parent activates the app and locks the remote phone the device user has no choice to but to contact an individual on the approved contact list that comes up. This is the only way the device user can regain the ability to do anything other than interact with the approved contact. In two words this is “Pure Genius (News - Alert)!”
Determined Mom makes her point and a useful app
The back story for how all of this came about is in the video. In short, exasperated mom Sharon Standifird could no longer stand the fact that no matter what channel she used—voice, chat, SMS, email, etc.—her children did not respond. As the video shows, she said it escalated as, "It went from a frustration to a worry." Standifird, who has a “can do” military background including serving in the Gulf War, saw a problem to be addressed. She learned how to create an app, got a little help from some other developers, and came up “Ignore Me No More.”
There were several things that intrigued me about the app and its application. The first is that the application is a solution to a very real problem anyone who has been a parent can deeply appreciate. In fact, while I no longer have teenage children there are days when I’d love to have this capability in a less constricting form for dealing with both my adult kids and those really older kids we call our parents. This very much could become a two-way street. The reality is that there are instances where due to life’s circumstance we all need to grab the immediate attention of somebody who is near and dear to us and create enough of a distraction so they respond quickly. With some modification, like a temporary lock so grandma and grandpa do not get confused, this should be enough to say mission accomplished.
Second, in terms of app development, there is a lesson to be learned. The app is both simple and highly effective for the task at hand. Parents can easily employ it when needed, and this will clearly get the attention of those inattentive kids. In short, this is an app that will be used.
Third, this one resonates based on the fact that it has gone extremely viral. We all “get it.” What I don’t get is why:
With a big tip of the hat to KTRK, the article on this includes links to what affectionately are called, “other apps for parents.” Depending on what stage of parenting you happen to be in this list is not at a minimum worth a few clicks to find out more.
The apps cited were:
DinnerTime App: Free and aimed as a reminder for the younger children of the times when they have obligations to fulfill like studying, eating and sleeping.
Canary: Another freebie but one as the name implies that is really valuable in this age of distracted driving since it alerts parents when their teens are texting, talking on the phone or using social media while on the road. Canary knows when your teen unlocks their phone and alerts you when they are riding in a car going over 12 mph. To my mind, this is a “must have” for peace of mind.
App Certain: Maybe not a must have but given it is free certainly something to consider. The app manages kids' app use by tracking all the apps they have downloaded. There is even a curfew mode to turn off the child's access to apps.
Norton Family: Yes, the security folks at Norton are in the children online behavior monitoring business beyond the usual parental controls and this free app will send an email when kids attempt to visit a blocked site.
My Mobile Watchdog: At $4.95 per child per month, or $44.95 per year this is a step up from the other monitoring capabilities and hence the price. The app provides parents with over 20 parental controls over virtually any form of content. In addition, parents can designate times to restrict usage and block certain apps from working, and it also includes GPS tracking.
For all of us who have been parents the phrase, “Look at me when I am talking to you,” should sound familiar, along with “So why didn’t you respond to my message?” Now there is an app for that, and lack of responsiveness is no longer an alternative.
That is a good thing which even the Standifird’s son Bradley grudgingly acknowledged by saying "Well, I thought it was a good idea, but for other people, not me." I suspect he might change his mind in a few years. In the meantime, if you are a parent whose child or children spend much of their day engaged with their devices and you can’t get them to focus on your entreaties, there is now an app for that.