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High-tech parenting 101

From smartphones to the latest apps, parents are turning to their tech to figure out what’s best for their kids and squeeze out more family time.
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The Internet is filled with all sorts of helpers that can make parenting a little easier. From allowance trackers to keeping schedules straight, parents are using the internet to help them stay on top of everything. Schedules can be managed, not with a single book, but with a calendar that the whole family can see online. It's an amazing revolution in parenting.

Why use technology?

Why are parents turning to online tools to help? People are busier than ever these days — managing households and raising children. High-tech management helps moms organize and plan, allowing more time for family.

"As a single mom, it's been a lifesaver in keeping track of everyone's schedules and appointments. Between coordinating play dates, remembering birthdays and even just jotting down work notes and reminders to myself while I'm in the car, I'm sorry I didn't embrace it [sooner]. It, and the information it holds within, has been invaluable," admits writer and social media expert Cate O'Malley, who blogs at Sweetnicks.com.

O'Malley says that changes in how technology is handled — such as phone companies setting up smartphones for customers — have made it even easier to jump on the technology train.

So, how are parents using technology?

Mom Laura Sherman uses Famzoo.com to track her kids' allowance. "I have tried manual allowances, but I had several problems with that approach. With three kids and the general chaos that is our life, I would forget sometimes. Also, my kids would inevitably end up handing the money right back to me because we would order something online and I would pay with my credit card. Famzoo lets me set up automatic allowances so I never forget — or have to remember," says Sherman.

Better yet, Famzoo lets Sherman input her kids' chores and they have to check them off as they are done. If they don't, then they receive a deduction in their allowance. "The site is well organized, easy to use for me as well as my kids, and has made the whole allowance thing not only more manageable, but more engaging," says Sherman.

Five iPhone apps for parents

Syncing your Google Calendar to your Blackberry isn't the only way to harness technology on your smartphone. iPhone's amazing array of apps can help too. And really, so many people have iPhones these days that it's no surprise that parents are using them to parent too.

These five are perfect for parents:

  1. White Noise — Need some ambient noise to help you (or your baby!) sleep better? This app acts like one of those white noise clock radios, providing a selection of sounds to help lull you to sleep.
  2. GoodFoodNearYou — This app will not only help you find food nearby, wherever you are, but it will help you locate the nutritional content too. Score! Your family can eat out and make healthy choices a little easier with this one.
  3. Shutterfly for iPhone — Don't lose those adorable photos that you've taken with your iPhone! With Shutterfly for iPhone, you can upload and share the photos. They can even be printed, though they probably won't be the best photos you've ever taken.
  4. Birthday Notification — Some days it's hard to remember your own name, let alone everyone's birthdays. That's where this app comes in. With all the important birthdays you need to remember plugged in, you'll never forget and look like a harried mom again. Score!
  5. AllRecipes DinnerSpinner — Who doesn't have a night where making dinner seems nearly impossible? (Especially because you have no idea what you'll be eating!) With DinnerSpinner, you select several variables — timing, ingredient, course, etc. — and it displays options that meet your criteria. Sure, it won't serve your kids dinner, but it can help you figure out what to make a little easier.

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