As a parent, it seems like wherever you look, technology is touted as dangerous for teens. While it’s true there are inherent risks with everything connecting your kids with the outside world, that’s no reason to completely shut them off from a virtual wonderland where a vast universe of facts and tools lies just at their fingertips. Discerning parents are finding a healthier approach to the ever-evolving world of technology by recognizing, embracing, and even sharing in opportunities for fun and practicality that leading apps have to offer.
Check out these four smartphone apps that can connect parents with their teens:
Vine: This app is sure to lend a little levity to the relationship you have with your teens, showing them that having you as a parent doesn’t mean all work and rules. With Vine, you can create short home videos of anything that catches your eye — from silly, everyday happenings to family event highlights. The videos are limited to only six seconds each, but they don’t have to be filmed in one shot; you can film three seconds here and three seconds there, and splice them together. It might seem too short, but you can make as many recordings as you’d like, and the time constraint actually means there’s a lot of potential for concentrated hilarity and silliness. When you’re finished making your video, you can share it with friends and relatives who are connected to the app. You and your teens can cry over sappy moments or have each other in stitches — and what’s better for any relationship than sharing the emotions that bind you as a family?
Bank of Mom: There’s no time like the present to teach your kids how to handle money. Specifically, lines of credit. The Bank of Mom app essentially allows your kids to see and manage a line of cash credit that they regularly add to and use. Because you serve as their bank, you oversee all the operations. So, when your teen earns money by, say, completing chores or babysitting their siblings, you’ll see when they “deposit” the time and respective earnings. You’ll also see when they would like to use the money that’s been allotted for going to a concert, for example — and this amount can be requested from you in a “withdrawal.”
Voxer: Another fun app, Voxer essentially works as a type of Walkie-Talkie, allowing you to send voice, text, photos, and location messages back and forth with your kids. This app may also change the way you communicate with your teens — only one person is able to communicate at a time, and the app doesn’t have the formality of a phone call.
Map My Run: If your family has its eye on health and fitness, join a group initiative to be more active, encourage each other, and inspire yourself. With Map My Run, you can log over 600 workouts, see detailed reports on your progress, and share your activities with your friends and family. If you all benefit from healthy competition, you can also join one of the many challenges offered by Map My Run’s community and see how well you stack up against each other.
As half of the average teenager’s day is now spent online, you may be missing a huge opportunity to strengthen your connection with your children if you don’t meet them in their technical universe. By bonding over various apps, you’ll likely find new ways to enjoy time with your children and maybe even amuse yourself while you’re at it.