Could selfies be the answer for parents keeping tabs on their children? The Lebanese developers behind the new app 99check think so.
Karim Mneimneh and Karim Azar developed 99check with the aim of helping parents to check-in on their children without invading their privacy. The app provides a platform for children to send selfies to their parents while they are apart, letting parents know that everything is fine and they are safe.
"The way I see it, people are evolving through the integration of technology into their lives," Mneimneh told StepFeed. "The smartphone is now a gateway for parents, which is where 99check comes in, something that facilitates the relationship even as kids become more autonomous."
"Seeing your family’s location on a map is only half reassuring. A call or text is usually necessary but is too much work and sometimes embarrassing. A selfie, on the other hand, is worth a thousand words. It’s quick and discreet, while making a direct visual connection between parents and their children."
Mneimneh was inspired to create the app as he saw the need arise within his own family. "My nephew just got his first smartphone, and his mom’s first act was to install a tracking app," he said. "She couldn’t find an app that properly addressed that need, while making room for privacy. So I did a bit of digging and came up with 99check."
While parents and children try to find the balance between staying in touch and allowing increased independence, Mneimneh feels 99check provides a better alternative for families compared to other tracking apps.
"No app out there caters to the in-between that most parents find themselves in," he said. "They’re concerned about their children, but don’t need to know where they are all the time — and to kids, who would want a way to reassure their parents to gain more freedom and independence."
Released on the App Store in the middle of April and officially launched on May 1, 99check's developers hope to have 8,000 users subscribed by the end of the month.
"We’re reaching parents and children organically through social media and word of mouth. We’re on track to achieve our target for the first month," Mneimneh said.
The app's basic selfie sharing features are free to all users, however the app also has a couple of premium features.
"Each of these features has the specific purpose of enhancing the experience of knowing where a person is," Mneimneh explained. "The first is location history, knowing the last 99 checked-in places of family members. That’s $1 per month. The second is a smart alert feature that notifies you when a family member leaves an area after checking in. That’s $2 per month."
Moving forward, 99check will also roll out several other premium features. These will include a notification of the child's location sent to parents when a reply is not received within five minutes, a feature allowing parents to keep continuous track of their children for a short period of time and a notification sent to parents if their teen drives over a certain speed.
As smartphone technology increasingly integrates into daily life, Azar and Mneimneh hope their app can help parents and children better navigate their needs for staying in touch while allowing for privacy. This idea is communicated in the apps name, which is more of a message to the children than to the parents.
"We named the app 99check to give it a friendly and approachable feel for everyone. 99 in texting slang means 'parents are not around,'" Mneimneh said. "Kids will immediately understand, 'I’m checking on you, not stalking you.'"