Tag Archives: texting

Ignore No More: An App Designed to Get Your Child’s Attention!

By Tracey Dowdy

Sharon Standifird was frustrated by her children’s tendency to ignore her calls and texts. As a woman who served in the Gulf War and climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, Sharon was not about to let that slide. She turned her frustration into another mission, and several months later “Ignore No More” was born.

Currently available for Android devices, Ignore No More allows parents to remotely shut down their child’s phone, leaving the child with just one option: call the parent and ask for the code to unlock the phone. No games, no texting, no internet access, nothing. (The phone can also be used to call first responders in case of an emergency.)

Two minutes reading through the reviews on the app store and you can see there’s a pretty clear divide on the virtues of the app:

“Omg! Love it. Best app ever designed for parents.”

 “Great Thinking!!! This is just what I needed for the past 16-17 yrs. My daughter always ignores my calls/sms. Not anymore.. lol THX”

“Don’t like this. You should spend your time teaching manners to your children, instead of imposing this because you cannot control them in the good way. If you need this, it’s your fault.”

Not surprisingly, the majority of the positive reviews are from parents tired of texts being ignored on a phone they pay for, while the negative reviews are predominantly from indignant teens who think the app goes too far. Some experts agree. “Let the child know that you value their independence, which is why you want them to have the phone, but that in this family there are expectations [around its use],” says Dr. Doree Lynn, a psychologist from Washington D.C.

While having a cell phone has moved from being a luxury to a near necessity, it still carries the responsibility of ownership and use. If the owner of a phone is the parent – meaning the parent pays the bills – then the child is merely the user. Given that relationship, it’s not out of order for the parent to have reasonable expectations that the child will respond to calls and texts.

To me, this is all part of a larger conversation about responsibility and respect. If your kids consistently disregard your attempts to contact them, there is a bigger issue at play.

Before resorting to shutting down their phone, start by sitting down and having a family discussion. Explain your frustration, set boundaries, and make clear what your expectations are. If boundaries and consequences are discussed, the app may not be necessary. If the problem persists, remind your kids of the consequences and then follow through. Communication and consistency are key in allowing your children the freedom to make mistakes and then learn from them.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

Distracted Driving: Time to Put Down That Phone!

By Tracey Dowdy

When I was a kid, family vacation meant driving for hours and taking the ferry to Prince Edward Island for a couple of weeks of camp. The biggest distraction for the driver was the constant
“stop touching me/stay on your side/I know I am but what are you?” bickering from the back seat and the occasional wildlife that would wander out on to the highway.

Not so today. Not that kids have miraculously stopped bickering – this isn’t a Disney movie – but with handheld devices and video screens built into the headrests, the biggest distraction is no longer coming from the backseat. Now it’s right there in the hands of the driver.

Although most of us admit distracted driving is dangerous, there’s a clear disconnect between acknowledging the problem and changing our behavior. With a staggering 74 percent of Americans admitting that they talk on the phone while driving, and the fact summer sees the highest incidence of teen accidents (7 of the 10 deadliest days for teen drivers fall between Memorial Day and Labor Day), it’s time to take a hard look at our driving habits.

Consider these statistics from DoSomething.org:

  • 10% of fatal accidents involving drivers under 20 were determined to be related to distracted driving.
  • 5 seconds is the minimum amount of time that a driver takes his eyes off the road while texting. If the car is traveling at 55 mph, that’s equivalent to the length of a football field.
  • Texting makes a crash up to 23 times more likely.
  • Teens who text while driving spend 10% of the time outside their lane.
  • According to AT&T’s Teen Driver Survey, 97% of teens agree that texting while driving is dangerous, yet 43% do it anyway.
  • 19% of drivers of all ages admit to surfing the web while driving.
  • 43 states, plus D.C., prohibit all drivers from texting.
  • 40% of teens say that they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone.
  • The most recent National Occupant Protection Use Survey finds that women are more likely than men to reach for their cell phones while driving.
  • According to 77% of teens, adults tell them not to text or email while driving, yet adults do it themselves “all the time.”
  • 9 in 10 teens expect a reply to a text or email within five minutes or less, which puts pressure on them to respond while driving.

Arguably the most distressing of those statistics is the belief by teens that adults text or e-mail while driving “all the time.” We are quick to criticize and accuse teen drivers of careless driving, but what examples are we setting? Maybe we’re not texting, but we’re taking a business call instead. Maybe we’re scrolling through a playlist or getting GPS directions from Siri. Maybe we’re like the woman ahead of me in traffic yesterday who was smoking, eating a doughnut, drinking coffee and checking her eye make-up.

Whatever we’re doing, let’s stop. Let’s put the phone down, put the coffee down, and fix our make up when we get to office. The risks and the consequences are simply too high.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

Getting Along with Siri

How to make Apple’s personal assistant your friend

By Tracey Dowdy

I have a complicated love/hate relationship with Siri. On one hand, she’s a lifesaver as I am blind as a bat without my reading glasses, so texting or emailing without them ends up being an intriguing game of deciphering autocorrect and “I wonder what that’s supposed to mean” for the recipient. On the other hand, sometimes it’s more trouble than it’s worth when she consistently or repeatedly misunderstands what I’m saying. It can be frustrating and, to be clear, it’s not you Siri, it’s me!

However, there are ways to improve your relationship with Siri that don’t involve couples therapy or walking away altogether. The key is to keep it simple. With a little patience and a little practice, you can get to know one another better and wonder how you ever lived without her!

Personalize your contacts

Siri had a rough time finding my daughter Ceilidh. (Go figure!) It’s pronounced Kaylee, but Siri was saying it as Kaleed. To correct Siri’s pronunciation, simply say, “That’s not how you pronounce Ceilidh.” Siri will ask you to pronounce it again for her. She’ll display 3 possible pronunciations and you can pick the correct one from this list. She’ll then pronounce the name and will pronounce it correctly going forward. Another option is to go into your Contacts>Edit>Add Field>Phonetic First Name. If a family member goes by a nickname, you have the option to add the nickname as well – Contacts>Edit>Add Field>Nickname.

Manage your calendar

Adding an appointment is as easy as saying “Siri, schedule a meeting with Paul tomorrow at 11 am.” If the individual is in your contact list, he will receive an email invitation. If you say “Schedule a meeting” but don’t include details such as a date or time, Siri will ask for clarification. If you make a mistake or need to make a change, it’s as easy as saying “Cancel my appointment with Paul tomorrow.” To review your day, you can ask Siri “What appointments do I have tomorrow?”

Hands-free texting

Use “Text” and “Tell” to have Siri send a message for you via SMS. Give simple commands like “Text Roy to meet me at Thai Orchid for dinner” or “Tell Ceilidh to pick up milk on the way home.” If you get a text while driving, you can have Siri read it aloud and respond without ever taking your eyes off the road.

Location-based instructions

One feature I recently became aware of is Location-Aware Reminders. Working via your phone’s GPS, Siri can send reminders as long as there is an address tied to the message. For example, if you need to pick up bagels on the way home, make sure the address for the deli is in your contacts. Tell Siri “Remind me to pick up bagels at Locke Street” and when you’re out running errands, a reminder will pop up. You will need to ensure Location Services is enabled – Settings > Privacy Location Services.

Check your voice mail

My husband insists on leaving voice mails, a source of never-ending frustration for me and our children. Just send a text! This isn’t 1987! Sorry – hit a nerve there. Discovering that Siri can retrieve and playback my voicemail may or may not have saved my marriage. Say, “Siri, play my voicemail” and she’ll put your phone on speaker and read it aloud to you.

Apple has a convenient user guide that will help you get started and walk you through how to use Siri. It includes a section on Frequently Asked Questions and list of apps that Siri works with worldwide.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.