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Safe teen drivers with helicopter parent apps
While we're still a generation away from seeing the effects of helicopter parenting on today's teens, at least there are apps that ensure they'll get there in one piece.
Posted June 06, 2013
It's funny that we often refer to today's teens as "tech savvy," because often they are not. Like the proverbial driver who owns a car but can't find the dipstick to save his life, a teen with a smartphone may only be "savvy" in the "push button to post on Instagram" sense of the word.

As parents, we can take advantage of this. There are many smartphone apps that will track user behavior, the social media they're engaging, the texts they're posting and, in many cases, the way they're driving.

Of course, it's up to each parent to decide how one or more of these tracking apps makes its way on their teen's phone. The helicopter-type parent might want to have a long, loving discussion on the matter before you both push the "install" button together like a digital pact. Others might want to lay down the law, old school: "No app, no car. End of discussion." Or, in some cases, a parent can surreptitiously "borrow" the teen's smartphone and install a tracking app to run covertly in the background, which only the truly savvy teen would notice (otherwise, blame Keek.)

Here are some options:

Rapid Protect (Android, Blackberry, Brew, iOS, Symbian): For families resembling an 80's TV show, Rapid Protect delivers a suite of "collaborative" mobile security blankets such as GPS tracking, geo-fencing, geo-points and photo/email check-in (I've arrived, mom. Coordinates to prove it"). It also allows you to lock-out text functions when a vehicle is in motion with an Android option to send a "sry im driving" auto-response instead. Other idyllic charms include severe weather alerts, a panic button and a sex-offender search (US only). Supports up to 2 users for $5 per month or $50 per year. Additional users cost another $2 per month or $20 per year (each).

Canary (Android, iOS). As a plain & simple safe-driving widget, Canary is also easily bypassed by a crafty teen (or "tech savvy" teen, if you're using the terms loosely). However, assuming the honor system works for you and your progeny, it's really a rather proactive way of promoting good driving behavior; not texting while driving, not speeding, not leaving a pre-defined area (geo fence) along with an remote insta-locator and built-in panic button. At $14.99 for a one-time, lifetime subscription, Canary is fairly priced considering the basic peace of mind being offered. What's more, it's free to try for week and only $9.99 if you opt to subscribe within those 7 days.

mSpy (Android, Blackberry, iOS, Symbian, Windows): For helicopter parents with a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, mSpy offers the most overachieving teen spy app on the planet (mSpy also suggests you use it on your spouse). We're talking total LoJacking (where they've been, where they art, how they got there) along with draconian niceties like monitoring and recording all phone calls, texts, SMS, IMs, web sites, photos, videos, etc. It's all managed remotely from a control panel where you can also set access restrictions or lockout or totally wipe the device. Not cool enough? mSpy will also turn a phone into bugging device and record real live conversations on the sly, unbeknownst to the phone's owner. Now you're talking! While including a host of remote management tools, logs and analytics along with live customer support, mSpy's overkill comes at a cost: $349 per year is the "cheap" option; $99 per month if you go month-by-month. Then again, a month might be all it takes to show your teen you're serious about your parenting via stealth chopper.

Now, for teens being treated/threatened with one of these overt/covert invasions of privacy, there's a good chance your parents will be open to a compromise. Accept their safe-driving app on the condition that they use it too. If alerts start rolling in about mom speeding through the school zone or dad trying to Google map his destination because he's definitely not lost, two things will happen: One, everyone becomes enlightened and starts driving better. Or two, everyone's all embarrassed by that stupid app and just uninstalls it. Win win.
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Newsroom Notes
Safe teen drivers with helicopter parent apps

File Under:
App, Round-up, Automotive, mSpy, Rapid Protect, Canary Project
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