“You can’t take us to the mall, Mom? It’s ok, we can just UBER it,” says my almost 13-year-old. Excuse me?
Come to find out, this is really going on in the area where we live. Today teens need to get somewhere and Mom, Dad or Grandma isn’t available or willing, they can just press the black U icon on their little iPhone X. In a matter of minutes, a willing stranger appears to transport them wherever their little precious heart desires to go. Even better it’s all conveniently billed to Mommy’s credit card so they don’t even need to have a bit of cash on them or bat an eye at the expense.
What is going on? I get that we are busy beyond belief. I know that we can’t be everywhere at once and our lives feel like juggling acts. Here’s the deal- if we are too busy or simply unable to get our kids to an activity, we should be saying, “I’m sorry, you’re just not going to be able to go unless you figure out how you’re going to get there without using an App.”
1. Policies clearly state that no one under 18 is allowed to ride without an adult
This one alone is enough for me. I copied and pasted both Uber and competitor Lyft’s policies, although I know that both companies are driving minors around unaccompanied.
Uber’s Service is not available for use by persons under the age of 18. You may not authorize third parties to use your Account, and you may not allow persons under the age of 18 to receive transportation or logistics services from Third Party Providers unless they are accompanied by you. The Lyft Platform is also not available to children (persons under the age of 18).
I’m not sure why this isn’t enough reason to prohibit your minor from using these services. But, if you’re not into facts, then on to my opinion.
2. UBER feeds teens need for instant gratification
It’s easy to fall in love with the excitement of new technology. Uber and other ride-sharing apps are hard to resist because they are so convenient to use.
I used Uber for the first time in Boston recently and it was fun tracking my driver’s approach via GPS. So much better than wondering when, or if, that yellow cab we called will actually show up. Having prepaid the fee is super convenient and it was so nice not having the anxiety of watching a cab meter tick. But, I am also 40 something years old and can use whatever app I want because I have earned that right as an adult with life experience and I have my own credit card.
3. Don’t worry- Mom will pay!
If a child is under 18 and using these services, this means that the rides are getting charged to a parent’s credit card. This means that they’d better have some way of paying me back if they were to use Uber and since no one has a job yet, that is near impossible. I’ve heard a lot of Moms say that they like their kids to have the app in case they need to get home from a party or are with friends who are drinking. I’m not there yet, but think it’s still a no go.
4. That person driving your kid around applied for their job online
Who is exactly driving your precious cargo around? Do you even know? Oh perfect, he has a 4.9 rating so good enough. It’s bizarre to me that we would’ve never dreamed of putting our darlings in a yellow cab on a regular basis but now because of convenience and a cool new app, we are letting them jump in a guy’s car who simply applied for his job online.
Have you thought about the ugly issue of what happens when, not if, an Uber driver is involved in an accident?
That’s the scary thing, isn’t it? We don’t even know how experienced these drivers are and we are letting them drive us and even our children around whenever we like.
5. Create opportunities for critical thinking
I’m not saying that kids should be sitting home if we’re not free to run them around. Let’s just make them work a little for the things they want to do. Give them a reason to work those critical thinking skills a bit.
I remember my best friend and I plotting how in the world we would turn our Friday night dreams into reality before we were able to drive ourselves around. It took a lot of finagling and working our relationships, but we managed and have a lot of fun stories to tell. There would’ve been zero chance that our parents would’ve paid for a cab to transport us around either. We are making life too easy for kids today.
Sixteen-year-olds aren’t motivated to even get their driver’s licenses today. There’s no sense of urgency to drive anymore as most socialization is done online and there isn’t a problem of getting around with willing parents and Uber apps.
A generation ago, kids couldn’t wait to get their driver’s licenses at 16. It represented freedom, independence, and the first big step into adulthood. The perception was that kids who didn’t have a license at 16 were really uncool.
Now I guess you’re not hip if you don’t have your own Uber app. My how times have changed.