Ignore No More app: Helicopter parenting in the digital age?

A Texas mother has created an app to disable her child's phone if they fail to answer her call. A step too far in trying to manage communications with kids?

Rich Pedroncelli/AP
State Sen. Anthony Canella, R-Ceres, uses his smart phone at the Capitol Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif.

A new app by a Texas mom called “Ignore No More” locks a kid out of his or her phone for not picking up when a parent calls. Perhaps this app should be named “Super Helicopter Parent 2.0.”

If your child won’t pay attention to you, choosing extreme measures may work as a quick fix, but it probably won't help in establishing an ongoing rapport and mutual respect.

Indeed, an app that shuts down a child’s phone when they don’t answer  may shut kids down to listening to parents in other ways.

After 20 years of parenting four sons, I can completely relate to the parental frustration of having a child not answer your call, whether it be across the room or on a cellular phone.

However, the old adage, “If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway” should not apply to our relationships with our children.

“We need to develop an app that just shuts their phone completely down and they can’t even use it. I got on the Internet and I literally just started researching how to develop an app,” inventor Sharon Standifird told ABC 13 in Houston, Texas.

The app costs $1.99 in Google Play and works only with limited versions of Android phones. According to the user reviews on Google Play, it seems like some users are experiencing glitches with the app.

“Works great but it’s pretty sad that once installed my son can no longer lock his device. This app leaves his phone open and vulnerable to theft and or personal info being accessed. This needs to be fixed,” wrote user JC Winters.

Actually, I think it leaves kids open to much more than cellphone theft.

According to USA Todaya new study about teenagers behind the wheel shows that repeated calls from parents are part of what fuels their distracted driving habits.

More than half of 408 participating teens in the survey say the reason they were on their cell phones while driving was because they were afraid to miss a call from mom or dad, according to new research presented Friday at the American Psychological Association's annual convention.

As parents, we want our kids to be safe, and the older, more independent, and socially active they become, the more natural it is to have an urge to clamp down on them.

Kids pull away and we tighten our grip until there is nothing left but bruises to show for all our caring. I did this with my son Ian during his high school days (he’s in college now) more than the other three because, frankly, he’s the one who tends to drop out of communication and “ignore” me.

I responded by escalating from chiding to taking away activities he held dear. The more silence from him, the more noise from me.

One day another parent went out of her way to tell me what a great son I had in Ian after she’d seen him biking to and from work, assisting her kids with self-defense instruction, playing in the school marching band, chamber orchestra, and still taking time to hang out with his younger brother.

My son wasn’t purposefully ignoring me. My son was and I were failing to find time to communicate.

Also, by continually calling, punishing and then lambasting him when he did finally call to check-in made me the person to avoid instead of the one to turn to about being overloaded.

As a mom thinking more deeply about ways to inspire communication, I have decided to go to my local Maker Space so I can learn how to create my own app I will call “Thinking of You.” 

It will be an App much like the meditation and prayer apps that you set to ping your phone as a reminder to take a moment to focus and be spiritual.

The difference is this one will link my phone to my kids’ phones so they will all chime at the same time to let each person know you are thinking of each other, Perhaps that will lead to more checking in with less danger of checking out.

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