Parenting is arguably the toughest job you’ll ever have (while also being the best). Luckily, we live in an incredible time with so many tools at our fingertips, and there are lots of ways that technology can help parents. Bottom line: When it comes to choosing technology, it’s about making your life easier, and it’s about making your kids’ lives better.
Build your kids’ thinking power.
Although technology can be a way for you to help your kids learn and grow, it’s essential to know the risks of using technology, such as the effects of screen time on young children. Your youngest children – those under 18 months – cannot yet process what they see on a two-dimensional screen to the real world, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding exposure at those young ages. Studies show young children who spend more time in front of screens have lower communication and cognitive skills. Their time is better spent on other experiences that allow for the strongest cognitive development.
Knowing how to manage the technology you share with your children will help ensure they have the best, most useful experience possible. As your children grow, watching special programs with them, while talking and asking questions about content, makes for the kind of interactive experience that will help your kids to develop in the best way possible. Playing games with them builds bonds between the two of you and creates fun family time. While it’s tempting to park your children in front of a screen for a half an hour of quiet time, know that you have an opportunity to really strengthen their cognitive connections and to create a chance for learning every time you sit down with them. And when it’s time, giving them their own device will help build their technology know-how that is vital to success in today’s world.
Tap into the power of apps.
Want to find more of that quality time to spend with your children? Use your phone to its fullest potential and take advantage of the multitude of apps designed to make your life easier. Apps like Boxed can save you time by eliminating the need for you to pack up your little ones (and all their ancillary equipment) and drive to the discount store for that last-minute item. The online wholesale retailer stocks every kind of staple you might run out of, both for your refrigerator and for your cleaning closet, and it offers free samples of different kinds of products you might be interested in. Other apps can help offer parenting advice, get you connected with other parents in your area, help you find the best traffic routes, find used clothing for your kids, stay on schedule, find a local babysitter, connect with your child’s doctor’s office and more. Search your app store by topic and you’re likely to find what you need.
Take baby monitoring to the next level.
Today’s smart baby monitors let you keep a closer eye on your infant than ever before, some with zoom lenses and the ability to connect the camera to your phone so you can check in on and even talk to your baby while you’re at work. Some keep track of room temperature and your baby’s sleep habits, and others monitor your baby’s vital signs like heart rate and oxygen content through a sock-like attachment.
The Lumi “connected care” system created by Pampers takes things even further by offering a wide-angle video feed with night vision, humidity tracking and a connection to a diaper sensor that monitors your baby’s sleep and diaper activity, so that you can anticipate and track your infant’s needs with your phone. There’s always the simple audio monitor, but the newer, smarter types offer more peace of mind through their special features.
Improve your physical health (and your kids’ health)
While a lot of technology has to do with being in front of screens, a growing use of screen time is linked to America’s epidemic of obesity in children and adolescents as well as adults. Instead, you can put technology to work for you to help you and your kids. Get your health trackers going, and get them for your kids, too. Health trackers are designed for kids as young as preschool age, and they can help you start your little ones off right with healthy habits.
Some health trackers provide rewards for positive activities, and you can set a great example by showing your children the results of your own health tracking. As your kids grow into pre-teen and teenagers, add in a healthy competition on the number of steps taken in a day or stair-climbing. There are even interactive water bottles for the very young kids that help encourage them to drink water by connecting hydration with a healthy virtual pet on a small screen.
Wearable technology for kids can go beyond health tracking and can also add in simple phones or cameras and also the ability to pair with your smartphone, so you can keep track of your kids’ locations. This can be especially helpful when children are old enough to get their steps in around the neighborhood on their own. These simple wearables can also be an early introduction for your kids to technology and the benefits it can provide.
Build your peace of mind.
Know who’s coming and going in your household by installing smart home items like a smart doorbell, which can send a video feed of your front porch to your phone. Smart sensors can keep track of open doors and windows, letting you know if your toddler has toddled outside. Install smart plugs for often-used and worried-over appliances – no more wondering if you shut off the coffee maker or remembered to turn on the crockpot after you’ve already left for work.
Whatever technology you choose, it should work for you and not against you – adding stress isn’t the aim, but rather simplifying and helping you to spend more quality time with your children.