Ride-Sharing: Ride-sharing apps and services have changed the game of teenage freedoms. It can sometimes take precision-like logistics to get all family members to the appropriate place, at the appropriate time. In fact, ride-sharing apps are wonderful for trips to the airport, when a car breaks down, or to navigate times when your kids are double-booked yet no parents are available to get them to their required destinations. In other words, ride-sharing apps have viability within many benign circumstances. Ride-sharing, however, has done an excellent job subtly eroding the long tradition of young teens getting to-and-from social gatherings via their parents, and older teens responsibly driving themselves to and from social events. So, let’s take a few minutes to review the pros and cons of ride sharing.

Ride-sharing upsides:

  • Makes a busy life more manageable
  • Great for family logistics and multi-child problem-solving
  • Provides supervisory data like real-time geo-fencing and location, pick up/drop off points/times, cost etc.
  • Great for busy, working parents
  • Reduces conflict regarding teens attending social events based on logistical limitations of parents or siblings

Ride-sharing downsides:

  • Teen’s become unavoidably mobile—which is often too tempting and ends in trouble
  • Curfews get pushed, tested and omitted more frequently
  • Parents may become more social, less accountable and unable to support a teen in need based on their own unavailability
  • The teen is more vulnerable than if they were being transported by their parent or the parent of a friend
  •  The ease of use generates a habit of use, and a credit card bill to prove it

Tips regarding ride-sharing:

  • Use them responsibly, as needed, but avoid nighttime transport. A 3:00 pm ride dropping a teen at an appointment is very different than an 11:30 pm drop-off to a house party.
  • Monitor your teen’s financial transactions for overuse or abuse. I knew a teen who had an account for 8 months prior to his parents finding out. His method was impressively strategic—frontload and follow-up trips with purchases of a comparable price...so they would seemingly blend-in on a credit card statement. And it worked! In fact, the only reason he was caught was after ordering an SUV for a trip to the mall and racking up a big charge which was immediately suspect on the credit card statement.
  • Bottom line here, there's no judgment. If you're willing to let your teen utilize ride-sharing services, be certain to set specific terms of use parameters (when, where, how often etc.) and monitor their use closely. The geofencing features on the most apps allow you to see location in real-time, as well as any financial costs associated with rides. Here’s a hint: if they have a $150 service fee…someone threw up.