During the past month we quickly noticed a shift in Pogo activity as parents geared up for back to school. We’ve tripled our user base from July 1st to today and we now have thousands of parents using Pogo across the country.
With new users comes more questions–which we love! It truly helps us shape our app into the best tool possible for families.
One of the most frequent topics we get asked is about is safety–and parents (understandably) have big feelings when it comes to the safety of their children.
Here are some direct quotes from parents on our Facebook Page:
“Don’t like the idea of this at all. Too many creeps out there.”
LOL you want my kids to get rides from strangers????
How do you know that creepy people don’t use this as a way to get a hold of kids??
We can certainly understand some parents’ hesitation. Especially with the growth of the shared ride economy and some of the negative press that has gone right along-side it.
The thought of something happening to your child is every parent’s worst fear.
So we want to address this head-on, and let you know what we have been doing at Pogo to promote trust and safety among our users.
We have 5 key areas of focus:
Privacy Settings — Vetting System — Safety in Numbers — Ride Tracking — Parents in Control
We enable all groups (i.e. schools and sports teams) to set up their community group with the privacy settings that are right for them. Some require parents to input a code to join, others want to approve all requests regardless of the code so they can check the parents information with their roster. You can click on their profile to see more information even if you are connected to them.
These checks and balances establish trust within the group that the families who request to join are a part of the community.
Pogo is unique in that we have a built-in social media component to our app. This allows you to see the mutual connections you share with other Pogo users you may not yet know and read reviews of friends who have vouched for them. This is how it works in real life—whether it’s on the soccer field or running into someone at the grocery store. You play the “name game,” realize you have mutual connections, and most often this leads to an instant sense of trust. Of course you need to meet them in person to make your own judgement, but once that happens a new connection is made. We use technology to speed up that process, but the end result is the same—trusted personal connection within your community.
Safety in Numbers
We hear the word “stranger” a lot, and what some people don’t realize is that these strangers are really just parents in your community you may have not yet met. And these parents are driving their own children as well, so there are other people in the car besides your child and an adult. Not only does this create safety but also new connections for kids.
For older children with cell phones (good grief, I have a seven year old, when does this begin?!) this may not be an issue, but the ability to track the carpool ride and have confirmation of pick up and drop off is a comfort to parents of younger children. Not only does it provide peace of mind, but it also helps with planning. Carpool stuck in traffic? Now the parent doesn’t have to text and you’re not worrying. Stay at work a bit longer or make that dinner that takes a little more time to cook.
Parents in Control
Based on our research and conversations with child psychologists, adults with the intention of harming children do not want to be in the spotlight or connected/visable to other parents. For this reason, we always encourage parents to use your “gut” to meet and assess anyone whom you choose to carpool with. Are they connected to other friends of yours? (through our vetting system) If so–call them up and get their opinion. We always want parents to feel in control of the decisions you make about your children’s transportation options.
Most of our Pogo team are parents, so we’re always looking at it through the lens of “would I do this with my own child?” We’ve built the app based on asking ourselves that very question as well as talking with hundreds and hundreds of equally protective and thoughtful parents. We think the result lends itself to happier parents and safer kiddos.
This post is not one to try and convince you to use Pogo or change your mind about your level of comfort in terms of other people driving your children. Rather we want to reinforce your parenting gut and provide some support for ways to help you make those important decisions when it comes to your child.
Happy (and safe) carpooling!