The rapid growth of cellular phone technology in the last 10 years is simply astounding. I remember having a Nokia phone with the “snake” game and I thought that was riveting. Apple’s iPhone release in 2007 dramatically changed the game for what is possible with a cellular phone. The improvements to Apple’s hardware and software of the iPhone have been tremendous in such a short time and a majority of cell users today have iPhones. One iPhone app that we at All Pro Dad think could be extremely useful in parenting teenagers is “Find My Friends.” Find My Friends is an iOS application that uses the device’s GPS capabilities to “find” other friends who use the app.
To get started, simply install the app from the App Store. Good news, it’s free! Once the app is installed, you will have to sign in with your iCloud username.
You can then start requesting to add friends from your phone contacts list. Once a request is sent, your friend or child must go into their app and accept the request. If you’re looking to add more friends, you can hit the “Friend Suggestions” button and it will pull contacts from your phone. Once a request has been accepted, you can see your friends on the map under the “friends” tab. If you tap on one of the dots, you can choose to message that friend or create a route to their location via your phone’s Maps app.
There are also parental controls in the Settings application to help you monitor how your children use “Find My Friends.” You can set the preferences you want and then use your own password so that changes cannot be made.
Overall, this application is a great way to establish parent/child trust in the relationship. Sure, many kids would not be happy to have their parents always knowing their whereabouts, but parents would not be pleased if their kids were lying about where they are. This might seem like an extreme hover parenting technique, but if this technology is available to us, why not make the most of it? If your child is stranded or somewhere they’re not supposed to be, this app could be of great use. Rules and boundaries can be established with this method. A parent could set a curfew and if the child is not home in time, the parent has the right to check on their location. All other times the parent should refrain from constantly checking. Parents can begin establishing trust in the relationship with their teen, but can use the app as a safety precaution.
Integrity and honesty can be taught through the use of this app; the parent to respect the boundaries in place and for child to keep their word. Find My Friends can be of great use to not only keep your child safe, but also to build and establish trust with them.