Safety Apps for Teens
Apps and Tools to Block Texting and Driving
Parents who want to protect their teens from the hazards of texting and driving have some new tools to choose from.
The danger of texting and driving is clear. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 10 percent of drivers under age 20 involved in fatal crashes were distracted, many of them texting, at the time of the crash.
Parents can get their teens to sign pledges to never text and drive, encouraged by AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign or the Ad Council’s “Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks” effort. But when a pledge is not enough, parents may want to consider these other tools:
Text Limit, an app that blocks all texts, calls and Internet access when the car reaches a speed from 30 to 60 miles per hour as designated by the parent. Password-protected so only parents can remove it, Text Limit is available on Android, iPhone and Blackberry for $24.99 a year at textlimit.com.
Drive ID, a device that attaches to the windshield and blocks texting and other activity on the teen’s cell phone whenever the car is in motion.
Drive ID connects to the phone through Bluetooth and doesn’t prevent
911 calls or hands-free calls from a parent. The device is $129 with no monthly fees and is available on Android, iPhone and Blackberry at cellcontrol.com.
Track Your Teen Driver
If you’re wondering how your teen is behaving behind the wheel, the answer may be in a tiny device that fits under the car’s steering column.
Called Zubie, the product lets you monitor your teen driver and can send you alerts when he or she drives unsafely.
Zubie consists of the Zubie Key, which plugs into the car’s diagnostic port (used by mechanics to diagnose automotive problems) and connects to your laptop, tablet computer, Android or iPhone.
The product lets parents see their teens’ route and location and can alert parents when their teen arrives and leaves oft-visited sites like home, work and school, eliminating the “where r u?” and “on the way” text messages.
Zubie also can be programmed to alert parents when teens are speeding, accelerating too fast or braking hard – and can help teens see the patterns in their own driving.
Users can review their driving skill “score” for the month – and even hold contests with friends and family members (who also have Zubie) to see who improves the most. Additionally, Zubie alerts users of engine problems or low battery voltage or fuel and offers discounts on car insurance and more.
The fee is $99.95 per year for cellular connection and the Zubie key, which works with most car models from 1996 on. For details, see zubie.com.
Your teen’s phone may be smart, but is it safe? Smartphones can expose kids to all sorts of threats, from cyberbulling to indecent websites. Parents wanting to reduce the risk should check out the new web-based product TeenSafe.
Parents can monitor their child's iPhone, iPad, iPod or Android phone. Once the parent signs into TeenSafe on their own device, their child’s smartphone data pops up – including current location and location history, call activity (incoming and outgoing) and texts (sent, received and deleted).
Parents can see their child’s web browsing history (as well as bookmarks and contacts) and their activity on Instagram (posts, comments and followers), WhatsApp and Kik Messenger.
TeenSafe employs industry-leading Secure Sockets Layer and Vormetric data encryption to secure the child’s data until delivered to the parent. Neither TeenSafe employees nor outside parties can access the data. The product doesn’t alter a phone in any way or violate its warranty.
After a seven-day free trial, TeenSafe is $14.95 per month for all kids in the family. For details, see teensafe.com.