Most of us read George Orwell’s 1984 in high school – a time when technology had reached the height that the government had access to its citizens’ every movement and conversation – at home, at work, and on the street. As adults, of course, we find that reprehensible and have genuine fears today about surveillance and over-reach. Not so with our kids, however. It is a dangerous world, emergencies happen, and our ability to protect ourselves and our kids is important. So is ease of finding great stuff to do as a family and providing educational experiences for our kids. Technology brings that to us through some great apps for the modern parent. Here are eight that provide both security and fun.
1. Baby Monitor 3G
This is the first HD quality baby monitor from any device on video. It is receiving rave reviews around the world and was named one of the 5 top lifestyle apps in over 100 countries, and currently has over 1/2 million parent users. Here are its most important features:
- Works with all devices – easy set up
- Provides live HD video anywhere
- Baby activity log entries
- Great reach over WiFi, LTE and 3G
- Clear sound and picture
- Adjustable night light
- Parents can talk to their babies in real time with their own voice
- Available in 13 different languages for true global reach
2. Red Rover
This app is relatively new, but is a great resource for parents who are traveling with kids or just looking for local attractions and events that are family-oriented. Each event or attraction is accompanied by a photo. Tap on the photo and you will get detailed information about hours, event details, pricing, etc. Users can also buy tickets and locate close-by restaurants, shopping etc. Events and attractions are updated on a daily basis – a huge plus.
Users can sign up for the app at Red Rover and then download the app to their iPhones. (Note: also available for Android)
Currently, the cities are limited to New York, Boston, Atlanta, Hamptons/North Fork, and San Francisco; however, many more are coming soon – Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, and others.
Best advice? Download the free app and keep it updated as you plan your family trips. This will be a great resource.
3. Mom Maps
Whether you are in your own home town or traveling with your kids, this app will tap you into anything and everything available for your kids by categories. Imagine traveling by car long distances and finding a need to get your kids out of the car for some “runaround” time. Now you can locate parks, indoor playgrounds. Or suppose you are on vacation and it rains all day – finding an indoor play place or activity is the perfect solution.
The premium version lets you get reviews and recommendations from other moms and give your own feedback after a visit to a spot. Other features include:
- Ability to bookmark and save favorites
- Users can view and upload video
- GPS with directions
- Ability to share with friends on social media
- 28,000 locations in 28 different metro areas with more being added regularly, both in the U.S. and major cities abroad
It’s free and available for iOS and Android – premium version will give you reviews and feedback.
Here’s the perfect parental control for helping kids develop smarter web use. This tool will let a parent limit, guide, and verify where their kids go online, through iOS or Android. Here is all that a parent can do:
- The app provides over 1,000 safe links for kids. Parents can modify as they wish.
- Surf Balance then tracks kids’ usage and provide reports so they can see how long they have spent on each site and in total during a time period or a day. Parents can set time limits, so kids learn how to “budget” their online time.
- Parents can block certain sites, and kids will have to ask permission for access. This gives parents time to review those sites and approve of them before giving permission
- Parents can also request daily or weekly email reports regarding their kids’ usage.
- Reasonable price – $4.99
There are certainly many other good apps for web controls, but this one has the added feature of time budgeting – a good skill for kids to learn.
5. White Noise Baby
Adults use “white noise” machines all of the time to enhance their sleep. Why not for baby too? For both IOS and Android ($0.99), the White Noise Baby app will provide your baby’s favorite white noise for both soothing sounds when s/he is cranky or for when it’s time to sleep.
Features include the following:
- Looped sounds – car ride, music, hair dryer, fan, conch shell, train, heartbeat, Doppler ultrasound of the womb and much more.
- Parents can choose a single sound or a combination to be played sequentially
- A shut-off timer that gradually fades the sound
- Timer that can be re-activated if it detects crying, to repeat the soothing sounds again
- Report log so parents can determine which sounds are the most effective
6. Smart Ice4 Family
This may be one of the most important apps a family can have, especially if there are family members with medical conditions that should be relayed to EMS and hospital personnel when the patient is unable to speak for themselves.
Data such as name, age, medical conditions/alerts, insurance, emergency contact information, medical history and more. All messages can be recorded in advance by the user, and they can be accessed by a simple tap.
Information can be stored for up to 8 family members. Important features include:
- EMS alert buttons that automatically dial EMS that include location
- Automated message plays once phone is opened giving EMS personnel instructions on the use of the app
- A built-in HIPAA statement with email capability – no filling out long forms at the hospital.
- Insurance information
- Listing of all medical conditions and current medications
- Preferred hospital statement
Lots of peace-of-mind for $3.99!