Tech-Savvy Father Builds Smartphone App That Forces Kids to Reply to Messages

Kids, and teens in particular, are apparently really good at ignoring their parents’ messages, which is why one London Father created ReplyASAP – a messaging app that takes over the home screen and sounds an alarm that can’t be turned off until a message is answered.

45-year-old Nick Herbert, from London, UK, came up with the idea for ReplyASAP after realizing that simply giving his son a mobile phone didn’t make getting in touch with him easier. He wasn’t answering his messages as fast as Nick had expected, and often kept his phone on silent. It was driving the father crazy, so he set out to create a messaging app that would make reaching kids easier for parents. It took eight months and a considerable investment to complete the project, but Nick thinks ReplyASAP could really take off, as it has the potential to give parents some peace of mind.

“My son started at Langley Park School for Boys a couple of years ago and has a smartphone. I thought this would make getting hold of him easier, but it doesn’t at all,” Herbert told SWNS. In fact, he is always playing games and has the phone on silent. It drives me crazy.”

You notice he is using the present tense, because his app currently works only on Android, and his 13-year-old son uses an iPhone. But that’s only a temporary setback, as the coding-adept father wants to make ReplyASAp available on the Apple Store as soon as possible.

“It will alleviate the stress when I can’t get hold of him as I will know that he has seen my message,” Nick said.

ReplyASAP is designed with parents in mind. It lets them know if their child has seen their message, or if their phone is turned off, but, most importantly, it makes it impossible for kids to ignore messages. When they receive a text from their parents, the app basically locks their phone, taking over the home screen and sounding an alarm until the message has been interacted with.

Sounds like ReplyASAP could become teenagers’ biggest nightmare, by making it impossible to ignore their parents. Herbert agrees that it’s a possibility, but adds that his app is simply a failsafe, and shouldn’t be parents’ primary way of communicating with their children.

“As they are teenagers I realise they aren’t going to be massively keen. My son hasn’t really said anything negative about the app. It is all about him understanding why it’s there. If I have something important to say I will send an urgent message. Hopefully It will make things a bit easier,” Nick Herbert says. “Will it be the bane of his life? Maybe! I’m not going to be using it all the time to speak to him. It is supposed to be a failsafe.”

ReplyASAP is free to download, but offers a series of plans, depending on how many people you are planning to connect to. the Bronze plan allows you to torment one person for $1.28, the Silver allows you to connect to 4 people for $3.21, Gold covers 10 people for $9, and Platinum allows you to add 20 numbers, at a price of $16.73.

I searched for the app on Google Play, just out of curiosity, and found that it had a rating of 2.6 stars. I was sure that teens were artificially driving the rating down just to discourage people from downloading it, but most negative reviews were from people who complained that they couldn’t use it for free (that’s life for ya) and others experiencing technical difficulties.

One thing that I found a bit worrying is that the app requires both the sender and the recipient to have internet turned on in order to work. So a teen wanting to ignore his parents would just have to shut down his internet connection temporarily and be safe from the annoying alarm. Perhaps this thing requires a bit more work.

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