Smart tech empowers smart parents

kid playing with tablet

I’m a 30-something, overly ambitious (and exhausted), working mother of twins living in the metropolis we call Chicago; Evanston to be exact. If I had a penny for every time someone asked me how I juggle it all, I think I’d have enough money to buy each of my 4-year-old boys those brand new iPads they want. Being the new-age mom that I am, I typically give a half chuckle and reply: “I am nothing without Siri, Kids YouTube and Amazon Prime!”

All jokes aside, as a working mother, I have sincere appreciation to those pushing the IoT movement. Propagators seem to be anyone and everyone these days — technophiles, innovation leaders, the City of Chicago, and even our trusted healthcare providers.

Managing screen time for kids

Despite the various voices telling me IoT is the future and something to be excited about, I cannot fully ignore the growing arsenal of literature and recommendations of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) cautioning parents to limit their young children’s screen time to one hour per day. I admittedly (and unashamedly) do not always take heed to all the “expert advice”. These magical screens have become integral to my life, especially now that I’m a working parent juggling more than ever.

Most days the smartphones, iPads and Amazon Fires in our home transform into virtual-nannies. Before you judge, let me explain. Those small but mighty devices have the ability to emit superpowers! My 4-year-old twins can’t wait to turn on PBS Kids or watch Blippi — two channels I trust to due to their consistent, age-appropriate SEL or STEM-based content. In fact, in the AAP’s own policy statement, “Media and Young Minds (2016)” they report that apps from the Sesame Workshop and PBS have been effective in improving literacy skills in 3- to 5-year-olds.

That hour they spend on educational channels zooms by when I’m doing laundry, replying to emails, cooking or jumping in the shower. Every now and then, I score a few extra minutes and I actually get to comb through my hair or apply mascara. Those moments are rare and magical.

Even if I don’t fully agree with the AAP, let’s assume that parents gain one hour each day if they follow those guidelines. Can you imagine all the things parents could do with that extra hour to themselves each day? By the end of the week that’d be a 7-hour gift of time. While this may not seem like a lot, it’s what many of us require to optimize our time as working parents. Those extra (quiet) moments allow many of us time to access our own devices and finally get to our to-do list.

I imagine this might be ordering fresh coffee via the Starbucks app, scheduling emails to be sent later via Boomerang, perfecting and optimizing our workflows via Zapier, ordering groceries via Amazon Prime Now or powering through a new book via Audible while we cook dinner.

The IoT and smart devices empower busy parents like me to wrangle all the things we’re responsible for in our lives. In what feels like a blink of an eye, we’ve evolved tremendously thanks to emerging tech. Now that we’re here, I can’t imagine ever going back; at least not willingly.

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