THE WOODLANDS, Texas — There’s a lot of debate about the right age to give a kid a cell phone. One father in the Woodlands wasn’t ready to give his 9-year-old son one yet, so he created his own app for other parents like himself. 

It helps them keep tabs on their children while still giving kids the freedom to play in their neighborhoods.

It’s a free app to download called SafeSubs as in safe subdivisions and serves as a communication tool for parents. 

One of the app’s creators, Chris Ross says it’s mostly for the parents of kids in elementary and middle school.

The app lets parents “check in” and “check out” a friend who is over for a play date. 

If the parents want their child home, they can press a button called, “Send Home.”

It also has information about the child’s allergies and curfews.

Ross says the app essentially gives kids a taste of freedom without fashioning them with high-tech gadgets like a smart watch, GPS tracker, or even a cell phone.

It was an idea brewing in the minds of Ross and two other dads, for nearly two years.  A few weeks ago, Ross made the app a reality for parents like himself.

“They want to let their child roam, but they kind of want to know where the child’s at,” Ross said.

He explains that on SafeSubs parents can create an invitation-only hub, or join an existing one.

“It would be nice to communicate between parents on play dates,” says Conroe-area parent Trevor Sala.

Sala worries though about child predators who might try to join the hub.

“You never know, It’s definitely concerning,” he said.

Ross says he made the app with that concern in mind.

Ross says when someone new joins they have to register a child and provide cell phone confirmation. 

Everyone in the group is made aware that someone new has joined. 

Addresses aren’t shared until you’ve checked a child into your home and only that child’s parent sees it.

“You don’t know where any other child is, the only thing that really is public, if anything, is a possible thumbnail of the child,” Ross told KHOU.

The app has about 2,000 users so far. Ross says he hopes it catches on in neighborhoods around the country. He invites feedback from parents which they can give on the website.

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