Parents, are you sick of being ignored by your own offspring? Worried that their lack of response to your text messages means something terrible has happened? British dad Nick Herbert was, which is why he designed ReplyASAP, an app that locks kids out of their phones until they respond to their parents’ messages.
ReplyASAP was born of a common problem: Herbert’s son Ben keeps his phone in silent mode and either doesn’t hear or ignores incoming messages from his dad. Herbert looked for an app that would override the silent function and demand Ben’s attention. That app didn’t seem to exist, so Herbert decided to create his own.
Users open the app, type out a message, and send it. When the message arrives at the other end (recipients must also have the app on their phones), it sounds a loud alarm and locks the screen, unlocking it only when the recipient responds.
Ben was happy to add the app to his phone. "It gives him the freedom to keep his phone on silent,” Herbert told Good Housekeeping in 2017, “but with the knowledge that I can get a message to him if necessary."
It’s free to send messages on the app, but Herbert says his family reserves it for urgent situations. “There is a mutual understanding that using ReplyASAP is only for important things,” he wrote on the app’s website, “and not because [Ben] needs new batteries for his Xbox controller.”
Herbert notes that while he designed the app for families, his friends quickly envisioned “grown up” ways they could use it themselves. “Their suggestions ranged from changing your order when your friend is getting the drinks in at the bar, to finding your phone when you've misplaced it at home, to work situations when you need to get hold of work colleagues quickly.”
The app is currently available for Android users in the U.S. Herbert is hoping to add an iPhone version soon.
An earlier version of this story appeared in 2017.