Does it seem like your teen is texting everyone but you? Do you feel like technology is creating a disconnect in your family rather than bringing you closer together? You’re certainly not alone. Many parents fear that all of this new technology is taking over their families and leaving little time for meaningful interaction. The online communication tools we’re featuring today prove that it doesn’t have to be this way! Technology is a powerful force, and when used appropriately, can bring families together, help them stay connected, and even strengthen family bonds. Check out three of our favorite online platforms for families.
Family eJournal is a virtual notebook that is passed from one family member to another. Each journal consists of just 4 fun, open-ended questions, which makes it easier and less time consuming than other similar platforms. Once you answer the questions, an email notification is sent to your family members so they can read your journal and vice versa. Why do we love Family eJournal? Because it uses the very things that most parents fear about online interaction (e.g. anonymity and self-disclosure) for the benefit of the family! I asked Family eJournal founder Kevin Strauss to tell me more about the concept behind the product. This is what he had to say:
"We created FamilyeJournal.com to be a relationship booster for your family. With all of the time we spend online, we wanted to offer an activity your family can enjoy together but still when it's convenient for each user. Safety and privacy are paramount so your Family Leader adds all new Family Members and uses only a first name and email address. We don't collect any identifying information which can be compromised."
We’ve seen many family discussions on Facebook and other social media networks that disclose private information for the world to see. Family eJournal gives you a way to talk about all kinds of things with your family in a more intimate way. Oh, and did we mention it’s free?
New Family Project
New Family Project is a great photo-sharing app if you want to share pictures of yourself or your kids with other family members, but don’t want the rest of the Internet to see them or repost them without your knowledge or permission. That’s right—now you can keep grandparents content with a steady stream of baby pics without worrying that you’re compromising your child’s privacy or leaving a digital footprint before the kid even learns to walk! I reached out to the New Family Project team to find out more about the concept behind the app. Marketing Manager Jonathan Miller had this to say:
"New Family Project came about to serve as a safe new alternative to share photos with your loved ones. What’s great about the app is that only the user sharing the photos needs to download the app. It’s very Grandparent friendly! We also take the liberty of stripping all of the geotagging information from each photo. Many parents are not comfortable sharing photos of their kids on sites like Facebook and Instagram, and we make the process of sharing fun, easy, and safe for the whole family!"
With New Family Project, you can enjoy the convenience of sharing photos online while minimizing the threats to your privacy.
FamZoo isn’t a tool for online communication, per se, but we included it because it certainly helps parents discuss the difficult issue of financial responsibility with their kids, and it does so in a whimsical, yet structured way. This virtual family bank allows parents to dole out allowances online, track their kids spending, and tie certain funds to specific chores. Kids are encouraged to set up savings accounts and even accounts for charitable donations. In many families, finances are kept secret, and money is a topic of which no one speaks! Unfortunately, this can set kids up for financial hardship later on when they’re left trying to figure it out on their own! Founder and CEO Bill Dwight (aka Chief Dad) spoke to Qustodio about how FamZoo helps parents navigate difficult conversations:
"All parents want their kids to develop good money habits that are consistent with their family values. Few parents have the time, expertise, or tools to make it happen consistently. We're changing that with our online virtual family bank. Our software and prepaid cards make it convenient, simple, and fun for parents to teach their kids to earn, save, spend, and donate money wisely through hands-on experience. Some parents worry that by automating family finance activities we'll eliminate important money conversations with their kids. In fact, the opposite is true: our automation triggers those critical conversations at just the right time and keeps the dialog going."
There are so many awesome websites and apps out there to help make parenting a little easier. The key is to embrace technology and use it for the benefit of your family! What parenting apps do you rely on? Note: The opinions above belong to Melissa Maypole, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Qustodio. Download Qustodio’s free software to begin managing, monitoring, and understanding your kids’ online media consumption today. For more information on digital parenting and online safety, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.