Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.
While much focus is placed on smartphone and tablet PC applications for specific members of the family, there are quite a few that can greatly benefit the entire clan – kids and parents alike. In fact, many of today’s top apps are meant to be enjoyed by all ages, and can even provide education, utility and positive insights to go with the fun and entertainment. Looking to keep everyone in your household excited and engaged, or need simple solutions to everyday life problems? Here are five of the best family apps that will help everyone get more done around the house, or have more fun after school, on weekends or during family game nights.
Family Apps for Activity Time
Geocaching – Geocaching is a real-world “treasure” hunting game which relies on GPS coordinates to help find hidden stashes. Usually the target is well-camouflaged box with a logbook and a few trinkets, but the treasure in Geocaching lies in the hunt. With the Geocaching app, families can gain easy and instant access to nearby or specific Geocaches, and read clues and logs from others who have recently searched. This app may seem a bit pricey at $10, but after a couple outings where your family is outdoors, working together and working to solve clues, we think you’ll find it’s well worth it.
Monitoring and Recommending Applications
YogiPlay – For parents, it can be hard to not only keep track of what your kids are playing on mobile devices, but to also know what sort of apps you should download for them. YogiPlay provides both of these services for parents, and it’s especially useful for those looking for educational apps for their preschoolers and elementary schoolers. Although there’s not exactly a YogiPlay app to download per se, the Parent Center dashboard can be accessed through any game which is YogiPlay enabled. From there, you can view your kids activity logs and success in specific educational areas, and receive recommendations for free and paid apps that are generated based on your kids likes, skill level and needs. To check out YogiPlay, simply search for “YogiPlay” in the app store and download an app that features their service.
Calendars and Appointments
Cozi Family Organizer – The Cozi Family Organizer app makes it really easy to keep everyone on time and in line with an intuitive calendar app that features color-coding for every family member, as well as e-mail and text reminders and check-ins that are fully customizable. Cozi also features a cool “shared” shopping and to-do list feature which lets anyone see, view and add items that need to be done. At the very least, Cozi helps make it really simple for Mom and Dad to stay on the same page, and hopefully remember who’s turn it is to take the kids to soccer practice. The Cozi app is available for free, but does contain ads, and an ad-free “premium” version costs $3.
DinnerSpinner Pro – If you have an ingredient on hand and need recipe idea, DinnerSpinner Pro can help with that and much more. Although a free version of the App allows you to search for recipes based on one ingredient and a time limit, the $3 Pro version gives you even more flexibility to search for up to eight ingredients and create shopping lists based on meal plans. You can even scan items in the grocery store to add it to your spinner. Other great features like the ability to easily tweak the number of servings and have the recipe updated make DinnerSpinner a winner for families.
Virtual Piggy – Parents now have more control than ever over monitoring their kids spending and earning of their allowances. The Virtual Piggy app helps manage your kids allowances using the Virtual Piggy online service, and allows parents to set conditions for where kids can spend their money and how much of it they can use. So after setting aside money for saving and charity, kids can then spend their dough at any of Virtual Piggy’s affiliate merchants, with mom and dad still having final say on whether or not to approve the transaction. It’s a great way to keep an eye on kids’ spending while also maintaining the ability to help them wisely spend their hard earned money.