Apps help parents track teenage drivers: The countercultural power of accountability

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Apps help parents track teenage drivers: The countercultural power of accountability

March 5, 2020 - Jim Denison, PhD

Category Culture

If you’re a parent of teenagers, you know the fear of watching your teenagers drive off without you in the car. If your kids are infants, you know that day is coming (unless autonomous cars intervene). If your kids are adults like mine, you still remember the days when they began driving. And you probably pray for their safety when you know they’re on the road even now.

Well, as they say, there’s an app for that. Several, in fact.

Tech companies now offer apps that allow parents to track their children’s driving habits, from speeding and braking to cell phone usage and texting. Insurance carriers have created their own versions, some of which offer discounts for safe driving.

Interestingly, much of the technology goes two ways, meaning that children can track their parents’ driving as well. For example, a father recently rented a Ford Mustang convertible and drove it on a back road at ninety-eight miles per hour. His daughter took a screenshot and texted it to her parents with the question, “What’s going on?”

Such accountability is an unsurprising extension of the technological innovations of our day. When our online shopping and browsing habits are transparent to marketers and our phones continually give out our location, we should expect that apps can track our driving habits as well.

Such accountability is surprising, however, in a countercultural way.

The countercultural power of accountability

Our postmodern society is convinced that there are no absolute truths (which is an absolute truth claim). “You have no right to force your ethics on me” is the mantra of our day.

But the driving app phenomenon shows that we are willing to take such relativism only so far. Parents want their children to drive safely (as do children their parents). We want them to obey the absolute laws of the road. We are unwilling for “their truth” to be “our truth.” We know somehow that our children are safest when they are accountable to safe standards.

God’s word agrees.

The Bible has much to say about accountability to God. We are told, “Each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). Jesus warned us: “On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). The Bible adds: “No creature is hidden from [God’s] sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

And we are accountable to each other as well. Scripture calls us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another” (James 5:16). We are told, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Jesus said, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).

If you knew that God had an app that was reading your thoughts and watching your actions every moment of every day, would such knowledge change your life?

He does.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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