When I created Kids In Touch, I hoped it would be a great way for my family to teach our boys how to text and behave responsibly in the digital world. Of course, I also hoped it would be great for other familys, and I wanted it to be a source of income for my family and perhaps my final career. Unfortunately, Kids In Touch has not been the financial success I had hoped for.
While not raking in the big bucks, this safe texting app has been a success in ways I never even imagined. Sure, I expected kids to have fun texting their friends, and I knew grandmas would love keeping in touch with their distant grandchildren. However, I never expected parents, teachers, and many others using Kids In Touch in the following ways.
Shortly after the app launched in 2014, I noticed a surge of registrations and support request from people in Turkey. Since I didn't even have the app available in Turkey, I was baffled by who these users were. At the time, the app required people to register with a cell phone number and be verified that way. Because I did not have the ability to text to numbers in Turkey, these accounts could not be verified. So, in came the emails asking to verify accounts.
It turns out these were actually Australian citizens living in Turkey. However, with the civil unrest and threats of terrorism at the time, they were worried about their children's safety. So, they sent their kids back home to live with parents and friends in Australia while they continued to work there. Unfortunately, they had no reliable way to stay in touch with their kids because texting and many other social media outlets were occasionally shut down or censored.
Being resourceful parents, they turned to Kids In Touch. They setup accounts and were able to text and send photos to their children. As Kids In Touch was/is a pretty minor player in the social media world, these messages flew under the radar of any censors. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to know something I created has helped families stay together in such dangerous and difficult circumstances.
Since Kids In Touch became available, I've heard from two different teachers in the United States that have created a unique use case for this instant message app for kids. They are both "special education" / "high risk education" teachers. Their students have difficulty understanding safe, socially acceptable messaging practices or have put themselves into dangerous situations because of their lack of proper education about the dangers of social media.
These inspiring teachers came across Kids In Touch and knew it could help them solve a problem their students were facing. So, they got parental & administrative permission to begin role playing with their students through Kids in Touch. They have a curriculum that involves texting back and forth with the children. They use the app to make sure the children learn what types of behavior are acceptable and how to recognize potential threats to their safety.
Of course, parents can also use Kids In Touch to accomplish the same thing. With issues like children reaching out to anyone online, it's imperative that parents do more to be like these teachers. Kids In Touch can be like training wheels for texting. Parents must teach their children how to be safe in this online world, and these teachers are helping to make that happen.
The impetus for this blog article came just a few days ago. An elderly gentleman was struggling to make the app work for his special situation. His wife is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and is in an assistive care facility. He needed to configure the app for both he and his wife so they could text each other when he was not there to be with her. We were able to get accounts configured in a way that and her carers could help teach her to text back to him. I'm so touched to know that my simple app is helping someone in this manner.
I've written before about divorced families using Kids In Touch to stay together despite being apart. Since that original post, I've had many other families tell me how the app is helping them feel connected to their kids between visits. It's now hard to imagine how distant most divorced families used to be. Technology and social media has bridged the gaps for these families. I'm thrilled to be a small part of the solution to help people through this tough situation.
There a many days where I am so incredibly frustrated with the lack of "success" for my app. I check sales daily. I assist customers. I spend weeks adding new features. I hear complaints about the app not being free.. When I'm in a bad place, all of these things seem to scream "failure".
However, on this Mother's Day, I had time to spend with my family and appreciate all the good I have in life. Taking the time to write this article and remember the amazing ways people are using this app gives me new strength to persevere. Kids In Touch is a success to everyone that is using it to make their family's lives better. I can live with that.