Being a parent is both rewarding and stressful, and being the parent of a teenager has the added stress of round-the-clock concern for their safety as they venture out more and more on their own. And these concerns are valid. Driving is listed as the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. And in 2019, more than 400,000 missing persons' reports were filed for those ages 21 and under.
Fortunately, there are a host of personal safety apps on the market now geared toward teen safety and the concerns of parents. These apps can be used in all manner of emergencies, from car accidents to experiencing an allergic reaction. This technology looks after your child and may even save their life one day.
[ Read: 12 Best Personal Safety Devices ]
Your teenager passed their driver's test and now has a license. This can be a scary thought for parents, as inexperience is the leading cause of teen crashes. Once you factor in other variables like texting and driving, it's easy to see why parents are concerned. AT&T DriveMode is available to everyone, regardless of wireless carrier. The app helps minimize the allure of using a phone while driving in a few key ways. The program silences incoming text messages and sends an auto-reply letting senders know the person is driving. Calls received during this time are routed to voicemail, and parents are sent an alert if the app is turned off or the auto-reply features are disabled.
For this app to work, you'll also need to purchase a Bouncie adapter. One installed, the app and adapter provide parents with all kinds of valuable information — from a car's current location to driving habits. This data can be accessed in real-time, which means parents can take corrective action if necessary. The system is somewhat pricy — $67 upfront, plus an $8-per-month subscription — but Bouncie's features make it a popular choice for the parents of young drivers.
Sister is billed as a "safety app by women, for women," but anyone can download it. The app has a very thoughtful approach to personal safety. Users can pick contacts to share their location with. In an emergency, an SOS can be activated that will notify those contacts, as well as pull up 911. The app also shows the safest and fastest route to the nearest police station. A map built into the program also indicates where the risk areas are in a given location so that teens can avoid them. Sister is free to download, but some features need to be purchased.
Bond – Personal Security
This personal security app does a little bit of everything. Maybe your teen is walking somewhere and senses they're being followed. In this scenario, the built-in Siren function will certainly attract attention once it starts blasting an alarm and flashing lights. Bond can also virtually connect your teenager with a Personal Security Agent, a doctor and even a tow-truck driver. Push the "Send Me A Car" button, and one of Bond's agents will dispatch a vehicle to come to your teen. The app is free, but the premium version comes with more options.
It's dark, and your teen is in an unfamiliar neighborhood. A stranger approaches and begins to follow your child. What to do? In this situation, all your teen has to do is open Noonlight and push a button. The app sends location information to the police. Noonlight also includes a timeline feature that allows a user to leave notes that authorities can access in an emergency. The free version of the app includes the safety button. Noonlight offers $5 and $10 monthly packages that come with more features.
First Aid – American Red Cross
Your teen just unknowingly consumed food that has peanut in it. This is a problem because your child is allergic to peanuts. Thankfully, you downloaded the First Aid app from the American Red Cross. Your son or daughter can use the app to call 911, or they can pull up a list of the nearest hospitals. Depending on the situation, your teen can watch a video or read about what to do next. Having all of these resources and information is critical when seconds count.
What to Look for When Choosing an App
There are a lot of personal safety apps on the market. Knowing which one to choose starts with knowing what you need. We talked to security professionals, and here's what they recommend.
"I would pick something that has a GPS function," said Heinrich Long, Privacy Expert at Restore Privacy. "It can be seen as intrusive, depending on how old your teen is, but it can save a life. I also like the option of calling multiple people, because that covers all of your bases."
Jade Hickton, a private investigator and Client Success Specialist at the Smith Investigation Agency, recommends apps that have an alert signal and come with connectivity flexibility. "An offline option allows individuals to connect easily without relying on the internet," she said. Apps with offline capability store both the software and the user's data locally, meaning it can still be accessed even without an internet connection.
The Bottom Line
Being the parent of a teenager is hard. There's a lot to worry about. Fortunately, there are apps that can help parents worry less while helping to protect the life of their child. Apps like AT&T's DriveMode and Bouncie will help keep your teen safe behind the wheel. Sister, Bond and Noonlight are great personal security apps that can be used to help your child get home safely. And The American Red Cross' First Aid app provides vital resources and information to teens during an emergency. If you're looking for an app, make sure it includes GPS tracking, the ability to contact multiple people at once, a siren and an offline option.
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