Dad Creates App That Freezes Kid’s Phones
Ever wonder if your kids are getting your messages and texts and just ignoring them because they’re in the middle of something more fun? Or perhaps it’s the onslaught of messages, texts, and notifications that come with being a teen active on social media.
That’s the question Nick Herbert found himself asking back in 2016. Though his son Ben had been given a smartphone partly on the condition that he’d need to respond to parent’s messages at all times, Ben wasn’t living up to his end of the bargain. “He may prioritize his friends’ messages over mine sometimes,” said Nick. So, like any resourceful and somewhat frustrated parent, he set out to solve the problem.
The result is ReplyASAP, an app that temporarily locks the phone remotely. Through the app, users can send a message that will be displayed over top of anything the recipient may be doing on their phone and sounds an alarm on the phone – even if it’s set to silent. Though users can hit the snooze button, the alert will keep coming back. Both the sender and the receiver must have downloaded the app for it to work.
At this point, the recipient can choose to reply, cancel the message, or snooze it, re-enabling the phone and sending a message that also notifies the sender of the recipient’s location. Once the message is viewed, the app alerts the sender that the message has been seen.
Herbert included Ben in the app’s development process. It was important to both that the app be useful, not intrusive. On the ReplyASAP website, Nick says “Ben likes the idea because he will know that if he gets one of these messages, then he will always hear it and will know it’s important. He will also have the ability to send me these messages – so there is a mutual understanding that using ReplyASAP is only for important things and not because he needs new batteries for his Xbox controller.
He’s quick to point out that the app has uses beyond communicating with your kids. “When speaking to my friends, they could all see other ‘grown up’ uses for the app because the majority of them kept their phones on silent most of the time too. Their suggestions ranged from changing your order when your friend is getting the drinks in at the bar, to finding your phone when you’ve misplaced it at home, to work situations when you need to get hold of work colleagues quickly.”
Since Herbert launched the app for Android almost18 months ago, it’s been downloaded over 100,000 times.
Currently, the app is only available for Android users. Multiple plans are available, allowing users to connect to anywhere from one to 20 users, at prices ranging between $0.99 to $13.
Apple has declined to add it to their app store because of its location and sound features, so Herbert says he’ll keep working on it until he comes up with a version that meets Apple’s specs.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.