The teenage years are notoriously difficult for families. Children are becoming adults and the power dynamics of the household begin to change. It is an impressionable time, as teens begin to explore the adult world they are about to enter. There isn’t much parents can do to protect their growing children from potentially dangerous topics, like sex, alcohol and drugs. A father in Maryland’s solution was to develop an app, that allows him to monitor keywords within text messages sent to his teenagers’ phones, called Code9.
Code9 was developed by Chet Thaker, and named after texting slang teens use to let their friends know when a parent is watching. “Parents have a way of being notified when a specific word or text is used,” explained Chet Thaker. It is up to the parent to insert keywords, like sex, alcohol and other similar phrases that they want to be notified if they’re teen is using. “I found them using inappropriate language in response to specific events that may have happened,” Thaker said. The application also implements GPS tracking, to allow parents to see where their teen’s phones, and likely the teens themselves, have been throughout the day.
GPS tracking and keyword monitoring may very well protect teens from their foul-language-using peers, but without solid communication between parent and child, it is entirely too easy for teens to work around the app. If teens want to go somewhere without their parents monitoring them with GPS tracking, they could easily leave the phone somewhere acceptable to their parents. It would also be easy for teens to create a new code for the selected keywords, and remain under their nosy parent’s radar.
“The way we parent is we trust our children. We talk to them about what’s right, what’s appropriate, what’s inappropriate to send,” explained Ann Arundel County resident and mother of four, Elaine Harrison. The best way to protect teens from the dangers they’re not prepared for, is by creating a safe environment at home, where they can ask questions and express concerns. “The bigger picture is you have to continue dialogue with your children about what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate,” offers Harrison.
Article Written by Marisa O’Connor
Photo Courtesy of ehecatzin through Creative Commons