Stay Safe: Personal Safety Apps for Teens and Family
by Kristen Daukus – 4 Hens and a Rooster
I will never forget the first time that I stood on the front porch and watched my oldest drive away by herself, with no one else in the car, the day she got her drivers license.
I honestly thought I would puke.
Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t the nervous Nellie about her driving skills – I mean she’d had Drivers Ed and then she spent an entire weekend learning how to be an even BETTER driver. As always, it wasn’t her, it was the rest of the world. People on the road are crazy and do stupid things and they don’t look over and say “oh! new driver who’s nervous! better be good!”. There are so many distractions and careless drivers, all of us should worry a little bit when anyone gets behind the wheel.
What worried me the most (and still does) is her general safety on the way to wherever she was going and once she got there. Teens today seem to cast a much wider net with their friends. When we were growing up, for the most part, we stuck with our “home school” friends and rarely crossed school lines to party. But it did happen and if I think back to any time in high school when I felt like I’d gotten into what could turn out to be a sticky situation – it was always when I was at a party that was out of that ‘zone’.
Did you know that 44% of reported sexual assaults take place before the victim is 18? One in three-to-four girls, and one in five-to-seven boys are sexually abused prior to leaving high school. Considering how easy it is for teens to get their hands on prescription drugs and alcohol, I’m not surprised by this number one bit. Extremely sad, yes. Surprised, no.
Short of forbidding her to go anywhere (talk about a post-license buzz kill…), taking her myself, or slapping a tracking device on the car, how could I help her stay as safe as possible and give her the ability to get in touch with me if calling wasn’t an option? I let technology work for me!
I pulled together a list of the best apps that are all somewhat similar. Some are literally ‘panic buttons’ and others are a little more like GPS devices.
Companion – Probably one of my favorite apps that i discovered, Companion is like you’re virtually walking or riding with them. They enter their final destination, send the info to their companion and you can literally see them walk/drive their route home or wherever. On their end, should something alarming arise, they have the ability to alert you with a tap. To find out more about Companion, visit their site.
Lifeline Response – Simple in that the user activates the app if they feel they’re in an unsafe area or situation. They simply hold their thumb on the device and if something happens, they let go and the process of alerting authorities to their whereabouts based on GPS begins. To learn more about Lifeline, visit their site.
WatchMe 911 – Another app that allows you to virtually make the trip with the user. With three customizable alert modes, a flashlight, seven alarms sounds, and the ability to notify 911 and your contacts by phone, text, email or through Facebook or Twitter, it’s the Swiss Army Knife of personal safety apps. Free emergency alert. To learn more about WatchMe 911, visit their site.
Circle of 6 – This app was originally created FOR college students but it’s easy to see how it can help the whole family. Circle of 6 lets you choose up to 6 trusted friends to add to your circle. If you get into an uncomfortable or risky situation, use Circle of 6 to automatically send your circle a pre-programmed SMS alert message, with your exact location. It’s quick. It’s discreet. Two taps is all it takes. I love how their site has a ton of information for teens and young adults on safe dating and healthy relationships! To learn more about Circle of 6, visit their site.
Kitestring – Kitestring is unique in it’s completely simple design. Everything is done via SMS so there’s no app to download. All you do is visit Kitestring’s site before you leave, enter your information and Kitestring will check in on you and wait for you to reply. If you don’t check in, Kitestring sends your emergency contacts a personalized alert message. To learn more about Kitestring, visit their site.
Personal safety is no laughing matter and one that you should coach your kids on from an early age. You’re not spying on them, simply giving them the tools to stay as safe as possible if they should ever encounter situations where they feel in danger.
To see demos of these apps and find links to download them, visit 4 Hens and a Rooster.
Kristen Daukus is a blogger and social media maven who frequently speaks on topics such as social media, technology, parenting and women’s issues. In 2011, she started the site Ten to Twenty Parenting which is a community site and information resource for parents of teens and tweens and the unique parenting challenges they’re facing. She also writes for Four Hens and a Rooster, where she is a Netflix Stream Team Member.