Between juggling your family’s constantly-changing schedules, keeping them safe, and doing what you can to raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids, parenting can be a lot to manage (to say the least). There are countless apps out there that claim to make it easier, but before you spend a ton of time staring at your screen and downloading a bunch of apps, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re focusing your energy on the ones that will actually help your family and save you time.
To cut down on your screen time—and maximize the efficiency of the time you do have to spend on your phone—it can be good to have one or two go-to apps you use to keep your family organized, keep them safe, and teach your kids some important life skills. It can also be nice to have some apps in the mix that go beyond simple practicality and enhance your family’s life in some meaningful way—for example, by helping your family take care of their mental health or create special new memories together. Here are a few that we recommend in each of these categories:
Managing a family and a household can sometimes feel like an overwhelming amount of work. Choosing the right apps to carry some of that load can cut down on the time you have to spend planning and cross-checking calendars and to-do lists.
- For busy families: The app parents recommend most highly for keeping families organized is Cozi. This app features a shared calendar, meal planning, to-do lists, and intuitive schedule coordinating for the whole family.
- For organization and tracking chores: OurHome not only coordinates your family’s calendars and manages your grocery list, but it keeps track of all the household chores. The best part of this app is that it gamifies chores and responsibilities for your kids by assigning points and rewards for completing tasks!
- For scheduling and communication: Picniic has just about all the features that your smartphone does, but it’s specifically geared towards families. With this app, you can coordinate schedules, keep track of your family members on the map, share family news, plan events, and manage to-do lists.
- For new babies: BabyConnect is perfect if you have an infant and need some help keeping track of feeding times, naps, and your baby’s development as they grow. You can share the account with other devices and caretakers, and even send each other pics of your little one through the app!
- For co-parents: For those who co-parent from separate households, you may want to get an app that helps you keep track of everything related to your child while minimizing any communication difficulties. Coparently is a great example. It helps you track expenses, scheduling, and share important contacts like your kid’s doctor and teachers.
Keeping kids safe
As much as we all love the conveniences and fun the internet provides us, we know it can also be a dangerous place—especially for kids. Downloading an app like the ones below is a good idea if your family has kids spending any unsupervised time online or on their devices.
- Surfie is an app that helps you monitor and safeguard your child’s screen time. Install the app on all your family devices to set parental controls, gain insights into your kid’s internet use, and customize the content your kid has access to.
- Another app that allows you to monitor your child’s time online is Net Nanny. This app sends real-time notifications about your kid’s online activity, including alerts if they search potentially harmful content about topics like suicide, drugs, or weapons. It also gives you the capability to block specific apps or sites, and to limit screen time altogether.
- SafeToNet monitors your child’s outgoing messages in order to detect cyberbullying, mental health crises, and other potentially harmful content. This app uses a smart keyboard to provide children with immediate feedback as they type, sending messages of support and guidance when needed.
For more help with online safety and setting parental controls, check out our guide for parents.
Teaching life skills
As you teach your kids the fundamentals they need to become independent adults, it can be hard to know where to focus your efforts online to get the best information for families. The following apps are good examples of ones that can help your kids learn important life lessons, and help you learn the latest guidance for parents and child caretakers.
- Teaching kids to manage money from an early age can have long-lasting benefits! Greenlight is an app and debit card for kids that helps teach them how to keep track of their money and gives parents the capability to monitor and limit their child’s spending.
- Another app that promotes financial literacy for kids is BusyKid. This one ties chores and responsibilities to your child’s earnings, and even encourages charitable giving. Your kid can even pick their own design for their prepaid Visa card once they’ve earned some money!
- Habitz is a fun app that helps kids learn healthy habits by earning rewards for things like eating healthy foods, brushing their teeth, or being physically active. You can even set personalized goals for your child to work towards.
- The Happy Child app is all about keeping parents up-to-date on the latest child development research and guidance in an easy-to-use format. This app provides parenting tips, lessons, and quizzes to test your knowledge.
Promoting mental wellness
It’s no secret that the last couple of years have taken a toll on the mental health of families everywhere. There are a ton of apps out there that focus on mental health and wellness—here are a few that are specifically meant for families with children.
- ThinkNinja is a great app for teens and preteens that gamifies good mental health habits and provides an AI-driven chat space for helping kids talk out their feelings.
- Chill Panda is a mental health app for younger kids that captures the user’s heart rate in order to tailor the experience to their stress level. Kids are guided through exercises to help them lower their heart rate and stress.
- Mindful Powers is another highly rated app for kids that uses voice-guided stories and mindfulness exercises to promote good mental health and emotional awareness.
Cherishing family memories
With modern technology, it’s easier than ever to take and save family photos and plan fun activities together! These apps will help your family create and cherish memories together.
- ArtKive helps you save all of your kids’ art without it cluttering every surface of the house. You can even use the app to put their art on keepsakes, or make a printed and bound collection to share with a loved one.
- FamilyApp is essentially a social media network for families. With encrypted communications that allow you to securely share family photos, info, and updates, and tons of resources to connect you to family-friendly activities—this app is a great well-rounded option for many families.
- Chatbooks provides a user-friendly way to store all of your family photos across your devices and social media accounts in one central place. You can then print out your photos as wall hangings or customized memory books.
It’s so easy to let technology take over our lives, but by being more mindful about the ways we use our devices and the apps we engage with, families can use technology to their advantage. These apps can get your family on their way to becoming more organized and more in touch with each other this year!
Dealing with school closures, childcare issues, or other challenges related to coronavirus? Find support, advice, activities to keep kids entertained, learning opportunities and more in our Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic Facebook Group.
For ongoing updates on coronavirus-related issues and questions that impact children and families, please find additional resources here.