Would you trust your child getting into a car with a stranger? One of the first things we learn when we are young, but finally able to exist more than ten feet away from mom or dad, is to not talk to strangers and most definitely to not go anywhere with them.
Shuddle is a new app being deemed the “Uber for kids.” The premise: to make life easier for busy parents who do not have the time or capability to drive their kids everywhere; or, as the website suggests, to allow parents to kick back after a long day.
From the looks of it, Shuddle looks like a pretty perfect idea. The drivers undergo “extensive” criminal and Department of Motor Vehicle background checks, have experience working with children, and attend an orientation and driving test. Drivers must also have a four-door car less than ten years old that passes a nineteen-point inspection.
You check out their website, download the app and see all of these happy and wonderful looking people. Mostly women and a few gentle looking men pop up on every page.
You know there is no way you can get your daughter to soccer practice and your son to piano lessons both at two o’clock; what better solution then calling Shuddle to send a random person to take one of them and pick them up?
Personally for me, someone with no children but many young kids in my life, I cringed when I first heard about Shuddle. Sure, it may sound great on the surface, but can sending your kid off with a stranger ever really be your best option?
Every day, parents trust teachers and nannies and caregivers and church leaders with their children. People who work with kids are automatically given full trust. While the majority of adults in these positions are probably good people, how many breaking news headlines have we had to see? How many amazing parents have been astonished to find out that their child has been harmed by someone they trusted completely?
The reality is that there are always people who slip through the cracks. There are people who are really good at hiding the bad things that they do, and those who decide to do a really bad thing for the first time on a whim.
Again, Shuddle takes the precautions and measures you would ask for: a safe word chosen by the family that the driver must say upon arrival, GPS tracker of the ride, and a message sent when your child has hit their destination. Shuddle also does not take any children who require a car seat and insist the children have cell phones.
Sounds great, sounds flawless, but are you going to risk that one day a bad seed may pick your child up and never bring him back? Do you trust that your child will not get in the car if they feel scared or uncomfortable? Do you trust that your kid, who is told to get in the car with a new stranger each week, is not going to understand when something might be wrong?
For you single mom or dads still in school, always running late to your part-time job, this may seem like a huge weight off your back. Just remember, you are entrusting your child to a stranger; someone who you may not ever even see or meet unless you are there upon every arrival and drop off, in which case you would probably not need this app anyway.
My advice: get a microchip or something in your child if you plan on using this a lot. I would never say that normally, but yes, I am now. A driver could easily send the arrival message, turn off their GPS and turn off your child’s phone, and then what? With children it is always better to be safe than sorry, right?