App for Checking on Your Latchkey Kid Is the Silliest Invention Ever

Does it ever seem to you that technology these days is often blindly thrown at complicated interpersonal situations, as though the mere presence of ones and zeroes can eliminate the need for basic human contact?

That's what came to mind when I heard about a new smartphone app designed for latchkey children. The developers claim that if your kids come home to an empty house every day, you can now breathe easy -- because a piece of software will let you know that they're okay.


The premise behind LatchKey Kid™ is that by running the app, children's GPS-enabled phones can be programmed to automatically send a text message to Mom or Dad when they arrive at their predefined destination. Iconosys says the app provides "the feeling of safety and security that someone knows where the other is at a specific event," which I want to say is the most awkward part of the marketing description, except of course for the fact that they actually refer to the abducted kid in The Changeling in their corporate press release.

LatchKey Kid isn't the only technology for children who have to fend for themselves while their parents are at work -- there are also a number of wireless-enabled deadbolts designed to let you know when Junior is home safe and sound (like the Schlage LiNK Starter Kit With Wireless Keypad Deadbolt, for instance). For a cool $300, you get a "remote access solution" that includes a keypad lock connecting to your home wireless network. Add an additional $8.99 per month, and Schlage's iPhone or Android app lets you get text message alerts when your child uses his code.

Call me a Luddite, but whatever happened to picking up the phone in order to actually speak to your child? Setting aside the issue that plenty of latchkey kid families these days probably aren't armed with the latest smartphone, nor can they afford fancy networked deadlocks for their front doors, if you want to make sure your child got home okay, wouldn't it be best to actually have some sort of real contact with him?

Even a text message that your kid actually typed with his own fingers seems preferable to some robo-script automatically triggered by his phone -- or the doorknob, for crying out loud.

Plus, there are too many ways that the technology could fail the situation. A kid could easily game the system, if he wants you to think he's at home when he's really off drinking Boone's Strawberry Hill wine and impregnating his girlfriend. Someone else could punch in his code, or take the phone into the designated "safe zone" for them. The network could go down, their phone's battery could die, and so on.

It just seems to me that some things aren't meant to be automated, and checking in with my kid is one of them. I'm all for extra safety measures when they make sense, but in this case, I'd rather have a requirement that we stay in touch -- the old-fashioned way, through audible words we exchange with each other.

What do you think about an app that sends you a text when your child is home? 

Image via Sidesmirk

Read More >