Frequently Asked Questions

iKinnect Study FAQs

Should at-risk teens be allowed to use smartphones?


Yes. Research suggests that smartphones are the only means of accessing the internet outside of school for many teens, especially teens from lower-income families. In additon, smartphones are an important part of mainstream youth culture. Denying at-risk teens access to smartphones because of fears that they will use them for misbehavior only marginalizes these teens, increasing the likelihood that problematic behaviors will continue. A better approach is to support parents in using smartphone technology to monitor youth whereabouts, prompt positive behavior, and provide valued rewards.




Are there any privacy or legal concerns in using this app?


Risks associated with using iKinnect are the same as using any smartphone. iKinnect pulls together existing smartphone technology (e.g., GPS features) and bundles it in a way that is useful for parents and that helps teens stay on track. User data is encryption on both the end user’s device and the server, which meets HIPAA compliance standards, and is not shared. More information may be found in our privacy policy.




Any sense yet whether it works?


Yes! A pilot study with parents and teens receiving MST showed improvements in parent efficacy, parent-teen communication, and trust. Parents used the app on average 2.4 times per day, and teens used it 4.0 times per day. Both reported high satisfaction using the app over a 4-week period.




How can I help? (Consultants, program managers, and agency administrators)



We are seeking partners for our next phase of app development. Sign up now to:
• Inform what features get incorporated into the app, to ensure that the app meets the needs of your site and clients, by helping us recruit families for user-testing research • Provide iKinnect v2.0 to your clients in a study testing its effectiveness. The app is not yet available commercially. • Ultimately, improve outcomes for your at-risk teen clients.




What if my family doesn't have a computer / internet-access?


All study participation can be completed using a smartphone. We can also work with your family to figure out using public Wi-Fi.




What if English isn't my family's first language?


English does not need to be your first language as long as your family has enough English comprehension to easily use the app as well as complete online surveys and phone interviews with the study staff in English. Feel free to use the iKinnect Features page to see screenshots of the app to gauge your family’s comprehension as needed.




What if my family's case is closing soon or has closed already?


We are happy to accept families regardless of where they are in their treatment – whether that is at the beginning or end of services. We can also accept families who received services in the last month.




What if the teen does not attend treatment sessions but their parent does?


This will work for the study - we are happy to accept families in which only the parent is receiving services.




As a therapist or supervisor, I cannot share my families' contact information with you without a release of information.


You are free to make a referral to the study with the family’s permission, but we prefer that families self-refer at this HIPAA-compliant website. In this way, you are not sharing their information, the family is making the choice to learn more about the study and provide us with their contact information.




The family I referred was randomized to the iKinnect condition and the study staff contacted me (with permission) to participate as a provider participant. What type of information will be asked of me?


Providers whose referred family is assigned to use iKinnect will be given the opportunity to enroll as a participant in the study. If willing, providers will be asked to complete a 20-30 minute phone interview with a research assistant. Questions will focus on the provider’s opinions about the family’s use of the app. For example, we will ask providers’ thoughts about how the use of iKinnect impacted the family, if it is helpful or disruptive to treatment, and likelihood of recommending the app to other families in the future. We do not collect any treatment data, other than if the type of treatment the teen is receiving.




Can data from the app and study be used against my family?


The study and families’ app data is protected by a Federal Certificate of Confidentiality, which protects participants against attempts by local courts to subpoena data generated by the app or the study itself to incriminate a teen. This Certificate allows the investigators and others who have access to research records to refuse to disclose identifying information about research participants in civil, criminal, administrative, legislative, or other proceedings, whether federal, state, or local. The researchers will use the Certificate to resist any demands for information that would identify our research participants.




My teen doesn't have access to their cell phone all the time, can we still participate?


iKinnect and the comparison app, Life360, both work best if the teen has access to a smartphone all or most of the time. However, we understand that there may be times when teens cannot or should not have their phones in their posession (e.g., in schools where students are not allowed to have their phones during the school day). Participation in the study is not dependent upon how much a teen has their smartphone with them, only that they do own or have frequent use of a smartphone. Parents/caregivers can decide whether the teen has use of their smartphone frequently enough to make the family's participation in the study worthwhile.




What if my teen's phone doesn't have data/service?


In order to participate in the study, both parents and teens should have access to a smartphone with data. The research app will work on WiFi, but due to its nature and specific GPS feature, it would be best to have a phone that also has data to connect the app to internet even when there is no WiFi.




What if I want to take my teen's phone away from time to time, as a consequence (punishment) for negative behavior?


Parents/caregivers have every right to deny a teen access to his or her smart phone if they wish. Parents who occasionally take teens’ phones away as a consequence for negative behavior are still eligible to participate in the study. The iKinnect approach is to provide teens incentives (rewards) for doing the right thing, which we hope will make taking phones away unnecessary.





iKinnect App FAQs

Is it safe to put my information in the profile setup?


iKinnect operates on a HIPAA-compliant server and uses an encryption process to unlink your name from the data generated by the app.




Will other people be able to see my teen's location?


No, the app is built in a way to minimize potential risk of invasion of privacy and it does not store GPS data. The location of your teen will not be traced by GPS. Instead, the server will only locate your teen under two circumstances: (1) when you/parent prompts it to do so using the Find My Teen function, and (2) at random intervals during each time period associated with the Challenge Cards to confirm that your teen is where they are supposed to be. The exact location of your teen will not be stored. It will only be noted that the teen is in an approved, required, or off-limits location.




How do I set up a Challenge Card?


Challenge Cards (i.e., teen’s responsibilities, parent’s expectations) are set up from the parent’s side of the app. Please see the steps below:

  1. Go to the “Cards in Play” screen (bottom left button)
  2. Tap the + button at the top left corner
  3. Tap “View Deck” of the deck you want to use
  4. Tap Overview and Settings of the Card you want to assign
  5. Tap Continue to Settings
  6. Add a location to the card (if you do not have any locations already added to the app, see substeps)
    a. Tap Add a New Location in the dropdown
    b. Use the search bar at the bottom of the screen with the fullscreen map
    c. Type in the address of the location you want to add
    d. Select the address from the list that populates, the map should zoom in on the location
    e. Tap Add this location
    f. Add a name for the location
    g. Set the Geofence (the orange circle around the location) using the slider bar. This is how the app will know when your teen has entered the location
    h. Tap Save these Settings to go back to the card
    i. The address you added should be in the dropdown now
  7. After you add a location, another location field will appear – this is to accommodate challenges where there are multiple locations
  8. Tap the + button next to Location Schedule to add specific times for this card to be active
    a. Set the Start and End time
    b. Select the days of the week this card will be active
    c. Tap Add this Schedule
  9. Tap Save and Add this Card
  10. You will get a confirmation page with KinBot
  11. The new Challenge Card will be under “Pending” until your teen Accepts the challenge which they must do from their side of the app, please see the substeps below for the teen:
    a. Go to Cards in Play
    b. Tap Overview for the new Pending card
    c. Tap Accept this Challenge




How do I get to the Rewards?


There are two ways to navigate to the rewards from the parent’s app: (1) tap the profile bubble at the top right corner of the screen then tap Rewards, or (2) Go to Dashboard, bottom right button and scroll down to view the Rewards listed. From the Teen’s app, go to Dashboard and either scroll horizontally to view all the rewards or tap on Rewards to view the list.




What do I do when I run into bugs / technical issues?


Because the app is not in its final completed stage, users may experience some bugs. If you find that you are experiencing a technical issue, please contact the study staff and let them know as soon as you can so they can help to troubleshoot and/or provide more information.