Parents, kids not calling you back? Frustrated mom develops app that remotely locks devices until they do
posted by Maxwell R. / Aug 16, 2014, 6:01 PM
This is not a new phenomenon, kids have been ignoring or rebelling against their parents since the dawn of mankind. Technology that makes us all connected can be easily ignored too. While the kids see it as a parent that won’t leave them alone, often mom or dad just want to check in and make sure all is well.
When Sharon Standifird was trying to contact her kids, and they didn’t respond, she was furious that it was simply due to them electing to ignore her. Never mind that the kids don’t pay the bills, or that Sharon was just checking in, the kids made a mistake that motivated their mom to develop an app that forces the kid’s hand.
Called Ignore No More, Sharon embarked on the challenge of developing an app which virtually shuts the kids’ phones down until they return her message. “It takes away texting, it takes away the gaming, it takes away calling their friends. The child will always be able to call 911,” according to Sharon.
Available now in Google Play, Ignore No More (see source link in slide show), will remotely lock the kid’s phone, offering them only the ability to call a pre-selected list of contacts. The parent can then provide an unlock password and everything returns to normal. The app cannot be disabled by the kid either.
Needless to say, Sharon’s (and other parents’) kids respond to her in a much more timely fashion now. Her son, Bradley, it torn on his mom's accomplishment, “Um, well I thought it was a good idea, but for other people, not me.”
source: CBS New York (1, 2)
Does this require the app on both phones Parent and Kids? if so, wouldn't it be easy to just delete the app and now your parent cannot use the privilege? If this works whithout the need for an app on Kid's phone then it'll be harder. But how about putting the phone on airplane mode (knowing your mom gonna block your phone) you can still play games, take photos, and other things that do not require data? Or turning off just data or just cellular (depending how the block signal is sent) and be able to use wifi, or data apps to text and call... Just curious. There wasn't much detail about kids ability to bypass this...
posted on Aug 16, 2014, 6:11 PM 6
Posts: 570; Member since: Jun 16, 2014
Permissions, hiding apps, locking apps from deletion, etc.
posted on Aug 16, 2014, 6:17 PM 4
Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013
Maybe the parents can secretly take their phone, root it, install the app as a system app, and then unroot it?
posted on Aug 16, 2014, 9:18 PM 3
Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 17, 2014
From what I understand, it uses device administrator privileges to "prevent" removal. However, this requires you to have the child/partner/etc's device and it be unlocked to open the app and give it device admin privileges once you install it, even if you do it via Google Play in browser. Device admin may prevent removal by just going into the apps menu in settings, but it cannot stop you from deactivating device admin privileges and then removing it like normal apps (or even doing a factory reset). If they decided to make a version which requires rooting, install as system app, then unroot, this can still be reversed by rerooting and/or flashing a custom ROM. This type of behavior would also likely cause it to be flagged as malicious by the antivirus apps in the Play Store, especially if it could already root some devices. Believe me, kids can find ways around just about anything (I'll be honest-I started programming when I wanted to get around an over-restrictive web filter on the family PC as a kid, and made a keylogger to get the password). I have seen (and suspended) multiple kids during my school IT career for bringing Kali and Backtrack Linux disks to school, clearing the local admin password and reenabling the account, booting in safemode w/o networking, installing games and programs, circumventing restrictions (namely, disabling Vision client software), then booting back normally and running their games, torrenting porn (yes, this actually happened...), etc., completely bypassing Active Directory (and the firewall, for kids smart enough to run a proxy or VPN at their homes and use it here). The final problem is that if you are to install it remotely, your Google account must already be setup on the device, which is a terrible idea due to them now having full access to your Gmail, Google Drive, etc. and being able to purchase stuff on your account (if you haven't set up authorization prompts properly for payments in the Play Store yet, anyway). Once they remove it, they can then remove the app from your purchase history (or their own, if you bought it under their account) and you now have lost your software license(s). As a father who has a very open communication channel with his son, this is not something I would consider necessary, as we both trust each other and regularly talk. However, I see this as a tool that is ripe for abuse by helicopter parents, abusive/controlling partners, and hackers (though it would probably be easier just to use Device Manager if you already have their Google account...), and am concerned about it.
posted on Aug 17, 2014, 1:49 PM 2
Posts: 17; Member since: Sep 17, 2012
Don't forget "freezing" the app with Titanium Backup Pro. If a parent like you installed this on his kid's phone, there would be no chance of the kid getting away with any of the methods of deactivation you mentioned for more than a few days... ;-)
posted on Aug 18, 2014, 3:39 PM 0
Posts: 37; Member since: Jan 12, 2012
Be open about the app on your child's phone and the rules. Add a feature where the child's phone app logs itself on a regular time interval and uploads itself to a central server. On the parent's phone, create a "remote health check" that regularly collects logs from central server. If no logs are found or suspicious intervals are missing...alert parent, have a 3-strike rule and either suspend phone privileges/give them a candy bar phone (whatever the agreed upon rule of giving them the smartphone in the first place)
posted on Aug 19, 2014, 6:11 PM 0
Posts: 2264; Member since: Jun 07, 2013
kids these days...
posted on Aug 16, 2014, 6:12 PM 4
Another point: Hope IRS or your Bank does not get a hold of this to block your phone when the payment is due and not let you use it until you call them to make your payment... You know what I mean?
posted on Aug 16, 2014, 6:13 PM 5
Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 27, 2012
Or phone companies blocking your shiny, new phone that was obtained off-contract but the full price hasn't been paid yet? You know, like in those off-contract plans that let you pay off part of the phone's retail price monthly. You'd need to take it to your carrier's office to have it unlocked - the lock of shame! :D
posted on Aug 18, 2014, 10:51 AM 0
Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014
I don't fully understand how the password unlocking works. Does the mom have to tell the password to the kid and they put it in? Otherwise this seems like a very helpful and innovative app...
posted on Aug 16, 2014, 8:58 PM 0
Posts: 1021; Member since: Nov 02, 2013
What a useless, harmful app. The kids will override this in a much shorter period of time than the moms took installing it, thus further increasing the tension for no purpose.
posted on Aug 16, 2014, 9:42 PM 2
Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013
Or just get a windows phone and have it built right on in. Setup 'childs' account with MS Account, you get access to all their usage, ability to limit usage and ability to restrict what can be seen. You can log into windowsphone.com, ring, lock, find location and erase the phone.
posted on Aug 17, 2014, 12:36 AM 1
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