As exciting as this can be, it can also be a concern for parents regarding the safety of their children. When my daughter moved 150 miles away from home for college, I wanted to know she was safe. And now I have three boys who will eventually graduate and move on as well.
Technology has always helped me to stay connected with my kids no matter where they are. We have taken advantage of texting, phone calls, Google Hangout video chats, Facebook, and more. However, a mobile app based on Google Maps has recently been released that goes one step further to increase the safety, communication, and connection for our students as they move off on their own.
See below for information on this powerful new mobile app that every graduating senior should install and use. I would also encourage schools to share this information with their students and parents before the year ends and the students move on.
The Companion App
This can be a powerful tool to help keep the student connected, communicating, and safe when walking or driving at night to get back to their dorm or apartment.
Here’s how it works…
Setting up the app
The app is free and can be installed on Android or iOS. See links below:
The first time the student runs the app it will take them through some basic setup. For example they will need to enter their phone number so the service can text them a confirmation code to enter for verification.
When the student is going to be walking back to their dorm or driving back to their apartment late at night, they can use the Companion app as follows:
- After launching the app they can choose their mode of transportation at the top (walking, bus, or driving).
- The map will show their current location.
- They can then drag the marker to their destination on the map, or use the search feature to enter where they are going.
- After setting a destination the app will ask the student to “Add Companions”.
- When they click on that button, the app will bring up their contact list. They can choose one or more people from their contact list to invite as companions. These could include parents, siblings, friends, and more.
- This will send a text message to the invited people asking them to serve as companions as the student heads to the destination.
- The invited people do not need to have the Companion app. If they accept the invitation they will be taken to a website where they can see the map and watch the student’s progress as they travel.
Using the App
While the student is traveling to their destination, their progress will be monitored remotely by their companions. However the app provides many more helpful features.
- The student can click the button marked “I Feel Nervous” to send a text message to their companions, prompting them to check in with the student.
- The student can press the button marked “Call Police” to dial 9-1-1.
- The app will also monitor the student to note any unusual changes such as the student running or removing their headphones. In such a case the app will display a large button asking if they are OK.
- If the student does not click “Yes” within 15 seconds the app will text the companions and will go into alert mode where it will make a siren noise until the student indicates that they are ok.
Technology helps us teach, learn, create, and play. But it can also help us connect, communicate, and stay safe. Whether you are a teenager coming home from a track meet, a college student walking back to your dorm, or a young adult heading to your apartment after a long day at work, please install and try out the Companion app. It is one more way to stay connected to the people in your life, stay safe, and help make these some of the best years of your life.
For more details on the Companion app, you can visit their website at: