Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Getting Your Teen To Stay In Touch

There's a new app in town, and it's definitely NOT an app that your teen wants on his/her phone. It's called Ignore No More. A mom of a teen was getting tired of texting her son to check in on his whereabouts, and having him ignore her texts and her calls. Out of sheer frustration she decided that she just had to do something about it. After a few years of design, she launched the app Ignore No More. The link below explains the technology of it, but in in short, this app links up your phone with your teen's phone. If you make attempts to contact your teen, and you are ignored by your teen, you can launch the app which automatically shuts off your teen's phone. It is disabled completely except for the ability to call 911, or call your phone. If he calls you then you give him a one-time only password that gets his phone back up in running. Imagine your teen, mid-text or tweet and has her phone shut off. Definitely would get their attention. And yes an immediate call home!

Here is how I feel about this app. I think it is a great tool to have in your pocket. But I don't think it should be your go-to response for getting your teen to be responsive to you. In some ways, it takes all the responsibility away from them. Teens get distracted, and engaged in the moment. Teaching them strategies to be responsible is always the goal. Teaching them to be mindful of time, of accountability, these are all life skills. Having this app on their phone in some ways, negates their responsibility. It takes it literally out of their hands and into yours. Strategies that teach responsibility might include for example, setting an alarm for when they are supposed to check in with you. Reminding them that they need to text when they change locations or every three hours. If you have a teen that is a serial "forgetter" than this app might be an alternative. Sometimes teens avoid their parents texts or calls because they are drunk or high or otherwise engaged (if you catch my drift) and just don't want to deal with you. This is not safe. What you can say to your teen is this: "I get when you're out, I am completely out of sight, out of mind, and truthfully that is fine with me. But I do need to know where you are and that you are OK, and what your plan is. Let's work on how we can do this together. If however, you don't stay in touch in a reasonable way, then I will have to use this app to help you do that. I would rather not do that, so let's work together."

Some parents have unreasonable expectations for how much their teens need to be in touch. If you are too smothering, expecting your teen to text you too regularly, you will be setting him/her up to fail and for you to feel angry and disappointed. Your teen likes their independence. And they need to have some. Reasonable expectations are a set up for successful communication.

1 comment:

  1. As I was reading about the ap, I thought it was a little strange. Glad to read that you still think the old fashioned way is best.