Technology and the modern family
With work, sports, after-school activities, doctor appointments and more, families are busier than ever. Stressed parents are increasingly turning to technology to help them enhance their communication, manage busy lifestyles and stay better connected on the go.
Technology can create efficiencies so that families can spend less time organizing and multi-tasking, and more time with each other. Leveraging automatic bill payment options and free online accounting systems like Mint.com, GnuCash, or AceMoney Lite saves time usually spent on monthly finances and budgeting. Free shared online calendars from Google, Zoho or Cozi enable family members to easily view each other’s schedules and streamline communications around plans and appointments. Meal-planning apps such as DinnerSpinnerPro allow users to search for recipes by ingredient and store grocery lists, and help families pare down the time spent shopping and cooking meals, so more time can be spent together.
The combination of high-speed Internet, webcams, smartphones and a number of new applications have also made staying in touch with more distant relatives easy and inexpensive. You probably know about Skype, but some newer videoconferencing apps like Camfrog Chat allow family members to create password-protected chat rooms so they can interact from computers, laptops or mobile devices to keep the lines of communication open despite busy schedules.
Increasingly affordable “smart home” technologies are the latest way to stay better connected while away from home. Comcast’s Xfinity Home service offers busy parents the peace of mind of professionally-monitored home security coupled with remote home control features. For example, parents can receive text or email alerts when a child arrives home (or doesn’t during a set window of time). They can watch live streaming video of their homes on a computer or smartphone, and access pictures of who has entered or exited the home with their children. Parents can also check the status of the security system and arm or disarm it remotely, so they don’t have to rely on their kids remembering to do so.
While the modern family may be spending less time face time together than they did ten years ago, the right technology can deliver a higher level of efficiency, communication, control, and ultimately help them stay better connected.