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Parents must use Reply ASAP with discretion. Misuse it and you can kiss goodbye to any chance of your child ever getting in touch!

Gulf News

An app has been created by a frustrated parent who was getting tired of his calls and text messages being ignored.

When a message is sent through Reply ASAP, it completely takes over the recipient’s screen, forcing the person to read it. Just to make sure, the phone also sounds an alarm, which only stops when one of the on-screen options is tapped. The only catch is that both users need to have the app installed for it to work.

To me, this sounds like a desperate measure to be heard, but I cannot really blame the inventor for coming up with this new way of making his voice heard.

I have heard parents complain about their calls not being answered and their children never bothering to get back to them, especially if they have moved out of the nest. When they have confronted their children, they are told that they were busy at work and if they didn’t answer, it obviously meant that they could not be disturbed. The parents are made to feel guilty and they think twice before calling again. They decide that they will only call if it’s a matter of life or death. However, this is easier said than done. They repress the urge to make contact after days of no news of their son or daughter, but a feeling of resentment builds. How busy can the child be that he has no time to make a brief call? The silence builds and so does the news bytes that the older generation wants to share. Then an official letter arrives and the parent’s heart leaps with joy. Surely this is a good reason to communicate?

So, the call is made. This time, there will be no giving up. Let the phone ring for however long it takes, they tell themselves. After several long waits and tries, defeat is admitted. But their patience is rewarded. Their phone rings and they recognise the familiar number. An irate voice asks the reason for the multiple calls. When the letter is mentioned, its contents are asked for. As soon as the letter is read out, the parent is told that it isn’t that urgent. Before the son hangs up, he is quickly fed a stream of information.

The app creator says he has a son in secondary school and bought him a smartphone so that he could contact him whenever needed. Obviously, this wasn’t a very smart move on his part as his son could play games on the phone and watch videos. In order to be able to do this, the son kept his mobile on silent so that he couldn’t be disturbed.

The lesson to be learnt here is that parents must use Reply ASAP with discretion. Misuse it and you can kiss goodbye to any chance of your child ever getting in touch. This might be hard to digest when one reads so many articles on how much time children spend on-screen, with a report finding children aged eight years and below spending 48 minutes a day on cellphones. Surely, they can spare their parents a few minutes of their precious time. Is that too much to ask?

I believe that the only way out is for parents to play hard-to-get. I have a friend who would not talk to her young boys if they were naughty. They soon fell into line. Make no contact whatsoever and wait for the results. Your patience may be rewarded with a surprise phone call. If that does happen, remember not to sound too pleased to hear that voice. Keep your cool and act as if the days of waiting were no big deal. And let me know if this works.

Vanaja Rao is a freelance writer based in Hyderabad, India.

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