6 Ways Smartphones Help You Parent

by Migdalia Rivera

Mother and Son Talking | Latina On a Mission

As a Mom, I’m the first to admit I need all the support I can get to raise my sons. Sometimes that support comes from family and friends, but oftentimes it comes from the one thing we all use, our smartphones. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at a Cricket Wireless in-store event about parenting and smartphones. As a sponsored Cricket Wirless Ambassador, I answered questions and showcased ways that smartphones help you parent, particularly during those tumultuous tween and teen years.

Below I’ve noted a few ways that a smartphone has helped make my parenting easier.

1. Google Calendar (FREE)

In the past, I used a wall calendar. But one, or all of us, would forgot to note down our appointments. With Google Calendar, we’re able to input the information as soon as we get it. We’re also able to invite others to the event so it shows up on all our calendars. Even better, we can set reminder alerts! Now, my sons can’t tell me they didn’t know we had to go to the Dentist because I know it’s in their calendar.

2. Google Drive (FREE)

My youngest and I have a folder on Google Drive that’s reserved for homework. He enters his school projects, homework and essays into the drive. I’m then able to check on his progress or help him edit, as needed.

3. Find My Friends (FREE)

The Find My Friends app is only for the iPhone, iPad or iPhone Touch. I recommend this app to any parent who’s child travels alone. It lets you set up location-based alerts that can notify you automatically when a child leaves school or arrives home safely. It also has parental restrictions – very important. To learn more about this app, head over to iTunes.

4. Threes! ($1.99)

There are tons of games for children on iTunes and in Google Play. One of our favorites is the Threes! app. It was recommended by my oldest. It’s a math game that encourages a love of numbers. It starts off simple and gets progressively harder as you advance in the game. It can be used on long road trips, while waiting on line, or even to pass time.  To learn more about Threes, head over to the Threes! website.

5. Enable Restrictions (FREE)

If your child uses a smartphone, restrictions are key, particularly with younger children. Thankfully smartphones allow you to enable restrictions directly onto the phone. On an iPhone, you can go to Settings, click on General and than Restrictions. To enable “Restrictions”, you need to create a Restriction Passcode. The code is important and should not be given to the child. This ensures that they do not remove the restrictions placed on the phone. You can place restrictions on the web browser (example: limit adult content or specific websites), apps, camera and so much more! You are also able to restrict content based on movie ratings (example: PG, PG-13, R, MA), music ratings (example: explicit), books (example: Explicit Sexual Content) and more. Androids also have the option to enable restrictions.

6. NetFlix (Subscription)

Opening a dialogue about tough topics is never easy. Sometimes a movie or a show can open up a conversation. Netflix has some great films on bullying, science and so much more! Plus, it’s always great to have on those long trips to avoid the “Are we there yet?” remarks.  A few movies/shows,  I highly recommend are:

  1. Bully
  2. Cyber Bully
  3. How Stuff Works
  4. MythBusters
  5. The Short Game
  6. The Pistol

Let’s talk! Do you use any of the programs, or apps, mentioned above to help you parent? Do you have others you would recommend? Share your wisdom in a comment!

About the Author

Migdalia Rivera, also known as Ms. Latina in social media, is a single Latina mother of a teen, tween and 2 Australian Shepherds. When not blogging, or chasing after her energetic bunch, she connects influential bloggers with brands and PR agencies via her blogger network, Stiletto Media.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Robin (Masshole Mommy) May 19, 2014 at 6:30 am

The only one of the six that I use on my iPhone is Netflix, but it’s for me – not the kids LOL. My kids aren’t allowed to touch my phone :)
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2 Felicia May 19, 2014 at 7:13 am

I definitely agree. My smartphone has really helped keep me more organized and on time. There are so many handy features that are great for kids as well.
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3 Carly Bellard May 19, 2014 at 7:20 am

All of these are great! As long as we are using the phones for good- instead of getting sucked into FB on them:)
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4 Clancy Cash Harrison MS, RD, LDN May 19, 2014 at 9:46 am

Thanks for all of the suggestions! I need to figure out Netflix. I have heard so many great things!

5 Lindsey @ Redhead Baby Mama May 19, 2014 at 10:23 am

I am a google fanatic. I LOVE google drive for work and sharing with my husband.
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6 Jenn May 19, 2014 at 10:43 am

Never was it more obvious than it was today that I need Google calendar. Couldn’t find my planner. Gah!
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7 Nicole Brady May 19, 2014 at 10:47 am

It’s amazing how valuable Google calendar and Google drive can be. Even the schools here have incorporated it into the kids’ studies. Writing and sharing using the features. Teacher proofs online and the kids edit. It’s awesome.
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8 Melissa May 19, 2014 at 11:18 am

Completely agree! I stay so organized and am so much more informed with my phone!
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9 Debbie Denny May 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm

The calendar is a priceless and handy app everyone needs.
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10 Liz Mays May 19, 2014 at 12:30 pm

I don’t know what I’d do without Google Drive! I’m learning to use Google Calendar a little more efficiently too.
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11 aimee fauci May 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm

I am THAT mom that does not allow her kids to touch her phone unless they want to snap a picture. I see too many kids (my grand daughter) that will not give her mom her phone back and it’s bad. BUT for me.. I like coupon saving apps.

12 Christie May 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm

My Google Drive has been a lifesaver! I need to check out the calendar more
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13 Henrietta May 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I am totally hooked on Google Drive, it gives me peace of mind that I won’t lose any of my works, since it’s not stored on my PC! My daughter used it a lot for school as well, they do most of their homework and projects through Google Drive which makes it easy for the kids to work together.
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14 Jaime May 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Google Calendar is so helpful to help coordinate schedules with my husband. I’m sure as my son gets older, we’ll continue to use it (he’ll keep us busy!)
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15 Emmy May 19, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Love the find my friends app! I don’t use it for my kids yet (as none of them have phones yet) but I always use it to see how close my husband is getting so I know when to start dinner, as his commute can greatly vary depending on traffic.

16 krystal May 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Google Calendar is a life saver! I love having everything all synced up!
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17 Karen May 19, 2014 at 3:12 pm

This is a great list! I love my iCalendar and also Google drive. I’m sure when my daughter gets older there will be even more apps I will use.
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18 MommaDJane May 19, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I use all the Google apps and Netflix on both my iPhone and iPad. I love it and it does make things more organized in our home with schedules.
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19 Chelsea May 19, 2014 at 5:33 pm

There are so many great apps for every aspect of life. I love Google Calendar and Drive myself!
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20 Laura May 19, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I totally agree! Especially on the whole staying organized front. I could not funtion without my calendar!
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21 veronica May 19, 2014 at 6:33 pm

I think these are great ways smartphones can help. I would rather keep it the old school way though, but then again my kids are 17 and 12 and they are pretty good with keeping up with their own schedules
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22 Virginia @thatbaldchick May 19, 2014 at 7:04 pm

I jokingly call Google Calendar my brain. If it weren’t for that and my to do list, I’d be lost.
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23 Janell Poulette May 19, 2014 at 8:06 pm

This is a great list. We use Find my Friend and I love it. I also always use the calendar app.
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24 Susanna @Zealous Mom May 19, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Great post! It’s nice to read a post about smart phones being helpful instead of harmful. Nice change of pace.

25 Theresa May 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm

I don’t have any of these apps on my iPhone, but we do use the Netflix app on our ipads. We use Facetime a lot too. My youngest doesn’t like to text, but will send me video chat requests quite often when she is away from home.
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26 Shell May 19, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Enabling restrictions is so necessary! I love my calendar alerts. I also set a repeated alarm for all the school/sports pick up times so I’m not late.
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27 brett May 19, 2014 at 9:01 pm

where would we parents be without restrictions online? scary! my kids aren’t old enough for phones… but we’ll be keeping a close eye on things when they are
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28 Chrysa May 19, 2014 at 9:18 pm

These are perfect uses of a smartphone and I use them, too! I love how the smartphone is there whenever we need it! Restrictions are necessary and I love that we all share our knowledge on this! Congrats on being an ambassador.
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29 Kayla @ TheEclecticElement May 19, 2014 at 9:19 pm

While a lot of people complain about how technology is intervening in society, people also need to realize that it can lend a greatly needed and appreciated helping hand to many!
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30 valmg @ Mom Knows It All May 19, 2014 at 10:09 pm

We do have Netflix in our house. I don’t watch it on my phone as I don’t like watching on such a small screen.
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31 Jenn @ The Rebel Chick May 19, 2014 at 10:10 pm

I think the different parental controls available now are terrific! You can’t be too careful!
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32 Beth@FrugalFroggie May 19, 2014 at 10:35 pm

I don’t use a smartphone. I don’t want the added expense. But they look like fun.
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33 Debbie L. May 20, 2014 at 7:18 am

Hard to imagine life without a smartphone. Seems like they have been around forever!

34 Jenni E. {Sweet Pennies from Heaven} May 20, 2014 at 7:53 am

All of these are great tools. Some I already use, but my little guy is too young to allow to mess with my phone. He does have a tablet though that I have restrictions set on. He also has Netflix on his tablet. AND he adores it!
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35 Rosey May 20, 2014 at 9:24 am

This is a good list. The find my friends app sounds useful, and I love that it’s free.

36 Amanda May 20, 2014 at 11:13 am

This is a great list! I need my calendar! I would be lost without it!
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37 Monica May 20, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Excellent tips and information Miggie. I would be lost without my smartphone!
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38 Dina May 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm

We love netflix and our smartphones. The educational games save my sanity when we are waiting at gymnastics or golf.

39 Cam | Bibs and Baubles May 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm

I’ll have to check out threes. My son loves playing games on my phone.
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40 Cara May 20, 2014 at 4:43 pm

What a great list of apps! I love Google Drive!
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41 Janeane Davis May 20, 2014 at 8:07 pm

With the decline in the number of pay telephones available, cell phones are a necessity for children at an earlier and earlier age. Parents must learn how to give the phones to their children and make it safe for our children to use them.
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42 Joanna Sormunen May 20, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Great tips! And I agree, smartphones and tablets can help a lot in parenting.

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