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Are You a Techie Parent?

Each week we're talking about issues and topics local parents care about. We invite you to join the conversation this week about whether technology makes your parenting life easier or harder.

Do you consider yourself a Parent 2.0?

The proliferation of technological tools to manage every facet of modern life has also inevitably moved into the realm of childrearing—yes, there is even an “app for that.” 

There is a techie solution to just about every perceived need that a parent has: Tracking the growth and development of their baby during pregnancy, surviving those first several months of sleep deprived feedings and changing diapers, to potty training and homework management, and beyond.

When I asked our local Mom Council this week what their favorite parenting technology tools were, they responded that the smartphone was their favorite and most useful tool.

Blackberries, iPhones, Android phones and the like, have enabled busy parents to ditch the bulky planners and manage their calendars and communications at the touch of a button.

“For me the best apps for parenting are my calendar and my camera,” says Erin Edward of San Ramon. “I used to carry my day planner like a bible, but now I use the calendar on my Droid to remind me of classes and play dates among other things.”

Improved camera and video capability also helps them capture those moments, without packing extra bulky “stuff” that usually isn't handy when you need it anyway.

“I also own a high-end camera but I always find myself without it,” says Edward. “Now I don’t miss a thing and I shoot video to boot.”

But, there was also something interesting, and I confess a bit unexpected, in their responses.

Despite all the tools available, they felt no real desire to use any of them.

They prefer to keep it simpler and old-school—saying it keeps them more “connected.”

 “I don't really use apps or technology for parenting, except for emails,” says Tina DeMattia of Danville.

“I find that other moms are the best resource for answering questions, providing recipes and giving support,” she says.

And when it comes to developmentally geared technology to use with your kids, Edward said it takes away quality time with her daughter, and she doesn't find herself choosing to use it.

“My time with her is so precious that when we are not outdoors or with friends, we end up playing board games, reading, or watching movies or shows she likes,” she says.

So, with all these apps and tools supposedly designed to make parenting easier, do they actually make child rearing unnecessarily complicated, micromanaged, and ultimately more disconnected?

Stephanie Gross March 23, 2011 at 11:56 PM
There is a new app that should be in the app store April 1 called SparkleFish. It's essentially mad libs that you can record and play back the story. It's a great tool for kids to learn their parts of speech (verbs, adverbs, nouns, etc) and to come up with silly stories. They'll also be able to post it to Facebook for all their friends (or their parent's friends, for the younger kids) to hear. It's going to be super fun!
Kirsten Branch March 24, 2011 at 12:07 AM
Thanks for sharing that app, Stephanie!! Sounds very fun. Anyone else have any great apps you would like to share?Please feel free to leave in comments.
Stephanie Gross March 24, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Sorry, I meant to say May 1st, not April 1st. Their Facebook page should be up and running mid-April though so look for more info there.
Anna Palmer March 24, 2011 at 06:55 PM
I'm developing an iPhone/iPad/iPod touch parenting app : marble jar. I am seeking 500 beta testers in the next two weeks for a 2 week trial that will run in early May. Other than being the first to know I will reward one random beta tester with an iPad 2. You can sign up to test at http://marblejar.winwinapps.com and learn more by following me on twitter twitter.com/marbjar thanks all, and feel free to tell your friends. Chances to win will be 1:500, so no need to keep it under wraps! Anna
Candi Bashiri March 30, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Kirsten - I find plain old TEXT to be indispensable. My kids are much older now (high school and college) and keeping in touch with them as they are out and about is crucial with TEXT. They respond to it (coz my incoming msg sounds just like any other), and sometimes, avoids friction. Also due to the limited characters on each text, I find that it makes me much more direct and specific to what I need them to do etc. I also use Facebook to stay in tune. Now some parents will jump to conclusions that I don't speak or have facetime with my kids because I use technology. Technology is a tool and I use it just like any tool (can opener, hammer) when I need to get something done.
Kirsten Branch March 30, 2011 at 09:42 PM
I've heard that from lots of parents as well, Candi. They say their kids may not take their phone call, but they will get the text. :) I must admit I'm slow to the text revolution, but I can really see how it can be used for communication, particularly with on the go older kids. You also make a great point about the lack of tone in a text...interesting. Thanks for adding to the conversation!

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