What is iKinnect?

iKinnect is a shared mobile app for teens and their parents. It helps parents organize and communicate their expectations for the teen, and supports teens in meeting those expectations throughout the day. Using iKinnect, parents can: locate their teen, receive updates throughout the day about whether their teen is doing what they need to be doing, and automatically reward their teen for positive behaviors. For teens, iKinnect is a way to stay on track - to remember the daily game plan, and to show that they are following the game plan. 

iKinnect is built on evidence-based interventions for youth with conduct problems and their parents. While intended as a self-help tool for parents and teens, it can be used in conjunction with therapy or other services.

Why iKinnect?

  • Juvenile offending, high school drop-out, and drug abuse affect 9-18% of teenagers in America, costing our juvenile justice system $194 billion annually.

  • A large portion of youth who engage in criminal behavior or drug abuse continue to have these problems as adults.

  • Low parental monitoring and inconsistent parental discipline are the two main risk factors for both the onset and maintenance of serious youth conduct problems.

  • As of 2015, 73% of American teens own or have access to a “smartphone.” Rates are 85% for Black, non-Hispanic youth and 71% for Hispanic youth.

  • Smartphone technology provides a convenient, non-intrusive way for parents to support positive youth behaviors, such as staying in school all day and avoiding risky locations.

Evidence Based Features

iKinnect promotes teen success by integrating the following evidence-based tools:


  • Game Plan – Parents can set behavioral expectations for various situations and times of day and assign point values to each. Expectations and points earned automatically appear on the youth’s phone, and the youth is prompted throughout the day to “do the right thing.”


  • Geofencing – Parents can set geographic boundaries around teen’s approved and unapproved locations


  • Notifications – Parents receive notices if youth enters or leaves an approved or unapproved area; teens get approval notices when on track or warnings when not.


  • GPS location on demand – with one click parent can locate youth at any time


  • Progress page and “gamification” features – Graphs and bonus points keep teens engaged and motivated


  • Coaching videos – Videos of parents engaged in challenging interactions with a teen that model a key parenting skill (e.g., staying firm when a teen protests)

Built by Experts

Cindy Schaeffer, PhD

University of Maryland, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Associate Professor of Psychiatry


Dr. Schaeffer’s research focuses on developing and evaluating family-based interventions for youth involved in the juvenile justice and child protective service systems. She also has worked to adapt Multisystemic Therapy (MST) to meet the complex clinical needs of two subpopulations of CPS-involved families: those with co-occurring parental substance abuse and child maltreatment (MST-Building Stronger Families), and those engaging in both child maltreatment and intimate partner violence (MST-IPV). Dr. Schaeffer’s research has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She is an author on over 30 peer-reviewed journal publications, numerous scientific book chapters, and one published book.


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