Teens & Preteens Using Ride Hailing Services

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  • Uber for tween/teen transport?

    (17 replies)

    Hi fellow parents, 

    My ex and I disagree about using Uber to transport our kids, a late tween girl and teen boy. 

    Can anyone contribute their thoughts, experiences, and wisdom to this discussion?


    My daughter uses it.  She won't get in a taxi because she feels unsafe, but with uber, she feels fine.  i got email notification of each trip.  The driver picture and license # get to her phone before they arrive so she knows its legit.  Downside is she gets lazy and takes uber instead of the bus when she could take bus, and so it adds up.  Overall, its been fantastic and saves me about 3 hours a day from what the driving i did before uber.

    Hi, AFAIK, neither Uber nor Lyft will accept unacommpanied minors. Neither will most taxi services!
    There are several child-only ride services now, with drivers who are carefully chosen (all moms, nannies, or teachers).
    We have successfully used:

    Zum - www.ridezum.com

    hopskipdrive - https://www.hopskipdrive.com/

    There is another one called Kanga, too.

    My son is 13 and is now riding AC Transit one afternoon!



    We are in SF, and I'm glad lyft/uber did not come on the scene in a big way until my kids were in their later high school years. Not sure exactly what your concern or differences in opinion are, but re: safety, personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable with a tween or early teen girl using it on their own.  Maybe in high school, start with taking it together with friends or her brother. 

    A separate issue for us is that we wanted our kids comfortable taking the bus and navigating the city on their own.  It's fine with me - preferably actually - that we let our kids be plebes and take the bus or carpool like everybody else.  Their teenagers, for cripes sake, they don't need to think they have to be chauffeured everywhere.

    It may be dangerous and illegal to send your kids off with someone you've never met. 

    It's also against the ride hailing companies' terms of service and your account may be canceled.   

    If it were me, I'd go with one of the services specializing in kid transport, especially for the tween.    

    We let our 16yo daughter use Uber/Lyft.  She started using it a year or two ago and at the beginning we insisted she only ride with at least one other friend and to turn on her location finder whenever she used it so we could track her trip.  She's used it both here in Berkeley/Oakland and also in SF (the latter only with friends).  We encourage using Lyft over Uber though I think she has both apps on her phone still. 

    From Uber's legal page:

    User Requirements and Conduct. The 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.

    My daughter started using Lyft at 15 as long as a 16 year old friend was with her. At 16 she started using it by herself, sometimes 2-3 times per week around Berkeley, Oakland, El Cerrito; it has always been fine. Although in theory she could be driving, using Lyft as an add-on to pubic transportation is cheaper than car insurance and parking.

    1. Uber is introducing a new family service specifically for teens, 13 and older. https://www.uber.com/info/teen/

    2. I suspect they're doing this for two reasons: market demand (ie, families were using Uber for teen transport even when Uber technically forbade users younger than 18), and competition. If you're in the market for a ride for your tween daughter and you're not up for using Uber or simply "can't" as she's not 13, try Kango instead. http://www.kangoapp.co/

    Perhaps this will subvert your entire spousal disagreement?


    Your message doesn't explain the objection to using Uber but I imagine that it's a safety concern.  My two cents:  I think that the ride sharing service is a boon to parents.  Today's kids and places to go and we can't (and shouldn't) drive them everywhere.  The best option is public transportation, which really builds their self confidence and independence, but isn't always an option.  If your kid is reasonably level-headed, I'd have them download a ride-sharing application to use in a pinch.

    But not Uber.  A quick google search will tell you why.  Any company can have one or two bad apples but that one is rotten from the top down.  We use Lyft and I believe that there are a couple of other reputable companies that offer ride sharing. 

    My son has been using uber for 3 years  since he was 14. It's been great when we can't do the driving, we've never had an issue with an unprofessional driver. I think it's a fine for a late tween and definitely for a teen. 

    Not sure what your disagreement is. Uber has horrible politics, so many people boycott. We've turned to Lyft, which is a bit better.
    In terms of safety etc., I have to say for us these services have been a godsend, especially because there's no temptation to drive with peers now that our daughter is a bit older.
    Our experience on the ground has been uniformly positive. Our kid has been using these services since she started 10th grade.

    We let our 15 yr old daughter take uber in groups only- all getting dropped off at same spot. If my older teenaged daughter takes it with a teenaged boy or boys, the girls get dropped off first if a male driver.

    I used Uber twice for my then-16-year-old daughter, for 30-minute rides to a volunteer job on days when I couldn't drive her myself.  Both times I called the Uber using my own smartphone rather than hers (so that I wouldn't have to put my credit card into her phone).  The first time, I felt pretty safe because I could watch their progress in the car, as if I were in the car myself.  The second time, there was no progress on the map, which was a bit harrowing. I had her keep texting me throughout the ride.  Their customer service told me that was a change in the app. I didn't use it again for that purpose, though I myself use Uber / Lyft all the time.

    Now, my daughters are 18 and 20 and they both use Uber and Lyft pretty often at their respective colleges. I've calmed down now that they're older. Certainly much safer than a taxi.

    For ages 15 and younger, there are specialized ride sharing apps.  I haven't tried them myself, but I met a Zum driver once and her description of the safety aspects sounded pretty wonderful.  Another is HopSkipDrive.

    Hi.  My 13 year old son has been using UBER/ LYFT for over a year now.  I was nervous at first, but now after almost two years of using this type of service with no incidents, I am okay.  You can have your child send you or exspouse an itienary as soon as they get in the car.  It tells you the driver and you can track the route progress.  This made me feel better when we first started using the service.  It is now a habit of my son to do this.  Let your child know that anytime they feel weird about a driver, to trust their instinct. have them call you and be loud and clear that they are speaking to a parent.  

    Now none of the above can help any unease with the driving safety concerns.  i kind of thought this out in my head that I had  allowed my child to get in the car of school mates parents and I didn't know their driving record. Not completely the same, I know.  But my own experience with Uber/Lyft has been good.  My drivers all seem like good drivers.  

    We have found that Lyft has better rates, especially during surge hours. Most drivers drivers drive for both companies. 

    My daughter has been using Uber since 10th grade, her friends were using Uber a full year earlier.

    I do want to share that we assume public services like BART are safer -- when they may not be.  My daughter was taking her weekly BART ride for her tutor on a weekday early evening, got off in Rockridge.  She had a horribly scary experience with someone who was clearly mentally ill and threatening her (verbally and loudly). Other people sitting nearby did nothing.  (They did commiserate with her once she was out of the station.)  My daughter is independent and strong-willed, and used to the urban life, but she was sobbing and hysterical when she called me.  Please let's not forget the inherent risks of public transportation, bus or BART, as well.  

    It is worth thinking about when folks talk about ride lift services or taxis as a safety concern. It hadn't occurred to me that a short BART ride could in the 1 in a 100 occasion be fraught.

    My daughter is back on BART this year (but I don't like her on BART alone at night yet.)

    Another Perspective

    Uber for a tween girl sounds like a bad idea.  Better to hire a personal driver for $20-$25/hr.

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Ex wants to shuttle young teens in UBER car

May 2014

My ex is going to want to use UBER car to occasionally shuttle our kids to/from events when it is not ''convenient'' for him because he's out socializing. I'm not sure what I think of this. Examples could be getting our 15 daughter home from the movies or a babysitting jobs at 9, 10 or 11 p.m. We also have a 12 yr old. I wouldn't want him taking UBER alone...but i wonder what age is okay...thoughts? Karen

I use UBER all the time for my 15 year-old. I am a single mom and can't be everywhere at once (I work, and I don't always use it when I'm out ''socializing'', but occasionally I do). Makes me feel just fine, as I am actually entitled to some me time once in a while. I haven't seen anything against this in Uber's Terms of Service, but you should email the company directly and see if this is allowed if you're concerned. In general, I use it for short rides and watch the status of the taxi on the map. I would probably not use it for a child younger than 14 or 15 unless s/he were accompanied by another older kid, but I've used it with great success.
Happy with Uber

My son has been Uber-ing around a lot since age 13. (He just turned 15.) It's been great and we have had absolutely no problems. I much prefer it over him taking a cab because he doesn't have to try to hail a cab from some odd location and there is an online record of exactly when, where and by whom he was picked up, and he doesn't have to give a tip. He really enjoys the independence, and has also met a lot of interesting people. It sometimes feels extravagant, but sometimes my only alternative was hiring a babysitter to pick him up someplace, and Uber is a lot less expensive than that. I'm also thinking ahead to the day when he is faced with taking a ride with someone who shouldn't be driving. He'll have Uber as an option, which I hope will make it easier for him to turn down a bad riding situation. ''No thanks, I'm going to take Uber'' or ''Let's just call Uber'' seems a lot easier for a teen to say than ''I'm going to call my mom.'' I haven't run into a lot of people doing this, but there was an article in the NY Times a few months ago about parents in NYC using Uber for their kids.
Uber Fan

Um, no way! Not even worth considering in my opinion...Maybe I'm overly cautious but I don't think I'd let my kids UBER, cab, etc alone (especially late at night) until they are 18 unless there was some very unusual circumstance and it was truly the only option. Think your ex needs to step up to his parenting responsibilities.
heck no

I happen to be reading this question while working backstage at the Code Conference (recode.net), and it may interest your ex to know that my boss just interviewed the CEO of Uber, and an audience member asked about using Uber to chauffeur kids around. The CEO was very clear that this is a bad idea. Later this year, he will roll out a service called Uber Family, only in NYC to start, using only the highest-rated drivers, and test the waters. Basically, your ex is hoping to use the service in a way that is super duper NOT how the service is meant to be used, which puts both his children and the drivers at serious risk as there are significant insurance issues at hand. So. That's awesome.
So it's not quite available yet, but you should definitely check out Shuddle (www.shuddle.us) as it sounds like the perfect solution. The convenience of UBER, but safety checked and focused exclusively on transporting kids. Disclosure: My friend is CEO. I can't wait to have this as an option. Busy mom
I would not send my sitter home in a Uber car, if I hire a non-driving babysitter, it is my job to get him/her to/from my home. If I need a sitter who can get him/herself to/from my home, I pay more for a licensed driver. But would I allow my 12 or 15 to use Uber for transportation? I guess... if I'd exhausted all other options! parenting takes time