Childrearing

Fed-Up Mom Creates App That Shuts Her Kid’s Phone Off If He Ignores Her Calls

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mom-invents-phone-appGiving your kid their first cell phone can be stressful. What if they don’t use it appropriately? What if they start texting in class? What if they don’t answer your calls? Well, then you need to sit them down and have a conversation about responsibility and privileges. Or, you can just install an app that lets you shut off their phone whenever you want to, saving you the need to parent in person. Hurray, technology!

A very determined mother in Houston, Texas named Sharon Standifird got fed up with her kids ignoring her texts and phone calls. In the beginning, she worried that they were locked in the basement of a circus clown/serial molester (no? Just me? Fair enough.) But once she realized that they were just being teenagers who didn’t want to talk to their mom, she went online and decided to make her own app so that she could turn off their phones when they didn’t respond to her. When Junior doesn’t answer your call, you just hit a four-digit code that locks his phone. Once the phone is locked, your child can only do one of two things: call 911 to report that their mother is a major bitch and totally unfair, or call you to get the password to unlock the phone.

While I definitely understand the motivation behind this, the whole thing seems a little misguided. Even the description on the android app store sounds tit-for-tat and controlling. From the Android App Store:

Ignore No More is a parental control app that helps solve the problem of defiant children ignoring their parent’s repeated phone calls and text messages. Once set up on the child’s device you as a parent can remotely lock them out of their device until they call you back. Let’s find out about this solution in this review!

“The problem of defiant children,” by the way, sounds like the start of a very scary parenting manual that involves silent dinners and barely contained rage.

That’s one way of doing it, I guess. It certainly sounds deeply satisfying in a vengeful kind of way. But maybe – and I’m just saying maybe – there’s a more effective way to deal with this. Having a cell phone is a major responsibility and a privilege for a teenager. If your child can’t use their phone responsibly and won’t obey the rules you’ve set down for them, then they they probably aren’t mature enough for a phone. The end. Phone goes bye-bye.

I do understand safety concerns and wanting your kid to have a phone for that reason. But if that is the main concern and the maturity part isn’t there, there are phones out there you can buy that don’t have internet access and have dedicated buttons just for 911 or the parent’s phone number. Maybe Junior needs to start out with one of those and prove himself accountable before moving on to an iPhone 5.

But Standiford is happy with how the app is working on her kid. She told ABC News 13, “I do have to say that he responds to my texts and my calls a whole lot quicker than he used to.” Excellent. But once the threat of having his phone turned off is gone, I’m guessing he might return the favor and hit “ignore.”