The idea behind the 'Unhappy Party' video story came when I was researching the market for a personal safety app running on a smartphone. Many of the mothers I spoke with were interested in a safety app to help protect their children.
I was driving one day between meetings and heard an interview on the car radio with an American psychologist speaking about teenage peer pressure.
I don't remember the radio programme he was on, or his name, or anything about him. But one thing stuck in my mind.
He spoke about teenage peer pressure and a method he personally used with his children to help them get out of some specific situations.
He gave an example of one of his teenage children attending a party with their friends. It it could have just been friends meeting together in one of their houses.
In either case, he has made a deal with his children that If they want to leave the party or their friend's house, they simply text him and he will collect them, no questions asked.
This means that he is trusting his teenage children to act responsibly when they are out and if anything happens that makes them uncomfortable, they can leave.
It also means that he won't ask them any awkward or embarrassing questions. They can of course talk to him about whatever caused them to leave but he won't force them to talk about it.
The reasons why they might want to leave could be very wide ranging such as:
Friends drinking alcohol.
Drugs being taken.
Unwanted sexual advances.
Pressure to do something they are not comfortable with.
Or they just want to come home!
It struck me that this was actually a fantastic idea. Teenage children can socialise with their friends safe in the knowledge that that can leave at any time without attracting too much attention to themselves.
As good as the idea was, I immediately thought of a couple of issues.
Sending a text message might be noticed by friends at the party. I know that kids are always pecking at their phones, but if for any reason your child’s phone was taken from them, there would be a message trail for all to see. This might bring further unwanted attention on your child.
The second issue is with text messages themselves. Apart from the fact that they are not an instant form of communication, it is very easy to miss a text message.
And if you miss the text message, who is going to respond? How will your child know to text someone else?
As I drove and listened to the interview, I realised that the app that we were developing could actually be a perfect solution for this problem.
Firstly, parents would need to know where their teenage child was going, a party, or just hanging out at a friend's house.
Secondly, there would have to have an agreed excuse for collecting their child early, e.g. family member ill, problem with transport home. Whatever the excuse, it must sound plausible to your child’s friends.
Thirdly, they would have to understand that an emergency alert from the party/friends house may not be an actual emergency but a request from their child to help them leave.
Secure and discrete
Instead of typing a message ‘to come get me’ your child could discretely select the emergency button within the Safe Amigos app. This triggers an alert to you but for safety reasons, does not show in history on the phone. So if someone takes your child's phone, they will not know that an alert has been activated.
You will receive an audible alert on your phone to let you know that your child needs assistance along with a link to view their location.
If you don't respond quickly enough, the alert will be routed to other people you trust to respond, for example your partner/spouse, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandparent, adult child or even a trusted family friend.
Safe Amigos manages the escalation process so that only one person takes responsibility for helping your child rather than having lots of people and lots of confusion.
When you make contact with your child, you can use the pre-agreed excuse for collecting them.
They can leave without losing face in front of their friends. You may be viewed in a slightly negative light by your child’s friends but at least you have helped them get home safely without affecting their relationship with their friends.
The following video story describes the scenario of a child attending a party with their friends and wanting to leave, but looking for help discretely so as not to tip off their friends about what they are doing.
Interested in Safe Amigos for your family?
More information about the Safe Amigos app for families is available on our website at:
Alternatively you may have decided to sign up for the service to help protect your family. If so, please feel free to click on the following button go register for Safe Amigos.
We would like to extend our thanks to those whose content has been used in this blog and in the related video.
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