Published in The Banner Graphic, Greencastle Indiana, September 26, 2015
A new website called carefulparents.com has seen a surge in user activity since its recent opening.
More than 450 members have already registered for this informative website, dedicated to alerting parents of the potential dangers and risks facing young adults today.
Putnam County resident Tim Sabens and DePauw graduate John Michels, two pioneers of the field, first had the idea in April after watching news coverage of a tragedy in Wisconsin in which a young girl was nearly stabbed to death by peers.
Sabens explained that ever since the idea was first brought to him by Michels, the pair has been working diligently to provide this vital service to parents.
“I had no idea that there was this fictional internet character and that kids believed in it to the extent of doing what they think he wants,” Sabens said, citing the “Slender Man” character. “All I could think about was ‘how can parents inform other parents of these dangers?'”
Sabens went on to say that Google’s search engine is a good way to find these risks and ways to avoid them, but it doesn’t go far enough. Furthermore, he said search terms weren’t specific enough. Through carefulparents.com, Sabens and Michels hope to create a place where parents can come share their actual experiences without having to search the entire web. This is the central focus of the site — the content is user-generated.
“Google is great, you can find almost anything,” Sabens said. “But the challenge is, what if you don’t know what you’re looking for? ‘What don’t I know about my kids’ safety?'”
This pair of entrepreneurial spirits said they aren’t doing this for any sort of financial gain, instead they are using the resources they already have to “build something that will help.”
In fact, though the page has originated in Greencastle, Sabens said the entire country could benefit from such a program.
“Right now there is nothing really specific to any certain city, town or state (on our website),” Sabens said. “We don’t want to leave anyone out who has something important to say.” Sabens added that as the site progresses, the user-content will generate and provide opportunities for the eventual “drilling down” into location-based forums in multiple cities.
Sabens, who has a background in web design and development, doesn’t claim to be a “great web developer,” opting to give the website a view into kids’ real-life scenarios, instead.
“Our idea was to really try to build a group or community of parents in our area,” Sabens said. “When you look at (the website’s) navigation, you’ll see we tried to view it from our kids’ perspectives so we can give it a realistic feel.”
Viewing the “About Us” page within the website shows its history and development.
“I would consider this our first generation site,” Sabens said, citing that the beta-version was open to a few users in July with the opportunity to find flaws. “I’m sure there will be updates as we go forward.”
Designed to be free, parents who want to sign up must first become a member so they can create an “alert,” a post or page on the site that provides specific information about a particular danger or risk. However, one doesn’t have to be a member to view the content.
The website is also equipped with Google Analytics, an embedded program free to most sites that comprises of and combines activity-statistics into a user-friendly database. Sabens said that, despite the lack of advertisements and a gaudy appearance, users have been spending an average of five minutes on the site — virtually unheard of online.
“We’ve had nearly 500 people who, through (social media), got the word out,” Sabens said, adding that the site has only been open for a few weeks. “Word of mouth is great and we’re happy to see the amount of time people are spending on the site.”