Nearparent uses social media in a way that is beneficial to the parent and child relationship. Every family has a close circle of friends whom they trust and can count on if the circumstance ever avails itself. The Nearparent mobile device application allows parents to build a trusted network of adults to be available in case they need to assist their child when in need. The location-based app is currently available for Android and iPhone devices and is also SMS compatible for users of non-smartphone devices.
When a parent user adds their child to Nearparent, the app asks if they would like to invite specially selected helpers for the child. The child’s parent is always in control of the individuals in their own Nearparent network. It is a closed social network with strict privacy controls that keeps the parent’s and child’s information secure from unauthorized users.The helpers could be relatives or close friends within the community.
A child who requires assistance simply clicks a button on the app which alerts all of the adults in their network that they require help. Child users are encouraged to contact local law enforcement for any potentially dangerous situations. A map feature instantly shows the child’s location in real time, using their smartphone device. In order to respect the child’s privacy, their location is not viewable by either the parent or the other adults in their network unless they activate the help request or “check in” to a location. This reminds me of the fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” I am sure false alarms will occur, but the child needs to be old enough to understand the responsibility of click that button.
Using Nearparent’s GPS integration, the helpers in the child’s network can see the child’s real-time location and how close they are to their location. The GPS also allows the child to see a map of their location and which helpers are coming with assistance.
An integrated “check-in” feature allows the child user to easily post a location update on their activities. This unobtrusive feature requires one click to “share location,” and does not inhibit the child’s sense of freedom while also providing their caregivers with useful information about their activities.
“We created Nearparent because we simply wanted to do something to help families in their day-to-day busy lives. Since we are all parents ourselves, we can relate to the difficulties that come with raising active children,” said Topi Jarvinen, co-creator of the app. “Nearparent is an innovative location-based app that improves children’s well-being while also giving adults additional peace of mind. Having a trusted group of interconnected friends who can help your child is a great safety net. The app also helps bring people together in a deeper way, building a sense of community that can be lost in the internet age.”
A future enhancement to the app will present various child-focused charities within the free app, promoting users to make optional donations. Nearparent will not take any percentage of the donation, sending 100 percent of the funds to the selected charity. Nearparent is currently in talks with several high-profile charities to establish partnerships.