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Over the last year, most of us have been racking up a lot more screen time than usual, and possibly feeling bad about it — but yes, today’s post is actually encouraging screen time by recommending several of the best apps for parents.
We feel like apps that help you preserve memories, connect with family (virtually), build good habits for your kids, and become more informed about your health shouldn’t be counted in those Evil Screen Time totals, so here are our recs for tools for your phone and tablet that help you simplify your life as a parent.
Readers, which are your favorite apps as a parent?
Five of the Best Apps for Parents
Kids produce a LOT of art. Especially if you have more than one kid, it can be overwhelming to decide what to keep, what to ask your kids if you can throw away/recycle, and what to secretly dispose of in the dead of night (also a good time to eat ice cream without having to share).
I last wrote about Artkive in our post on tips for preserving kids’ artwork (without keeping everything). Artkive sends you a box that you fill with art from one or more kids and then send back with a prepaid label. The company takes professional photographs that you can view online, and once you’ve approved the proofs, they’ll send you an 8.5″ x 11″ hardcover book or a framed mosaic.
The starter kit is $39, and you can use the slider on this page to get an estimate of the final price, which depends on how much art you send. I think a book or mosaic would also make a really nice grandparent gift!
Ovia Health Apps
I’m not familiar with the company Ovia Health, but it calls itself “the market leader in maternity and family benefits” — as well as “the most trusted and established health brand among millennials.” (As a younger Gen Xer, this makes me feel old.)
Ovia offers a suite of three apps: Ovia Fertility, Ovia Pregnancy, and Ovia Parenting. The pregnancy app was highly recommend in one of my moms groups on Facebook. Ovia’s website lists each app’s features (which include the opportunity to connect with other users at each stage) and shows some screenshots. The apps look like straightforward, useful tools to guide you through each stage of parenthood — without the cutesy features or designs of some other pregnancy/parenting apps.
Note: You may want to read this NYT story about the period app Flo’s improper data-sharing practices before using a health app like this.
As someone who rarely carries cash, I love having a app-based allowance system for my son. Plus, if he wants to buy Roblox or another online item, he wouldn’t be using cash anyway.
I was all ready to recommend the app PiggyBot, which we’ve been using for a couple of years, until I found out that it’s no longer available (unless you’ve already downloaded it). But RoosterMoney sounds like a great alternative.
The free version of the app includes a star chart and virtual money tracker and lets your kids divide their money into Spend, Save, and Give pots, as well as set goals. You can get a one-month free trial of Rooster Plus — compare the features here — which is $18.99/year.
If you don’t have a school-age kid, file this suggestion away for now — you’ll thank me later. This is such a cool app! You use your phone’s camera to take a picture of a math problem, and Photomath instantly solves it — and I’m not just talking about simple addition or multiplication. When I want to quickly check if my son has done a math problem correctly, this is how I do it without any brain power or even my phone calculator.
Sure, a calculator is totally adequate if we’re talking about, say, third-grade math homework, but once things get more complicated, this app is a game changer. This would be especially helpful with middle school or high school math — algebra, calculus, etc.
Besides being an excellent tool for backing up photos for your own use (which I do at original quality vs. high quality), Google Photos can be a great choice for safely and privately sharing kid photos with family.
A few years ago, I wrote a post on four free apps for privately sharing photos, and a reader commented that she uses Google Photos instead. It’s easy to use, and most (or maybe even all) of your family members already have a Gmail account, so it won’t involve signing up for anything new.
The reader noted that she and her husband created a private album of kid photos that a few family members can access. I think I might start doing this instead of using Dropbox.
What do you think are the best apps for parents? Which apps have you heard about that you’ve been meaning to try?