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How to tell if a parental technology product is right for my family

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There’s a lot of great ParentTech out there, but sometimes the charge gets levelled that this sort of technology is creating a problem where none exists, winding up parents and generating paranoia. This recent BBC piece takes a quick look at some different parenting tech to discern how useful a role it really plays.

The article’s coverage fits in well with our own experience. Yes, technology can be invasive and problematic, but it can also provide very real, very helpful solutions to the problems parents are facing.

Discerning the best parenting technology

How can you tell whether the product you’re looking at is something that’s genuinely helpful?

First of all ask yourself whether it solves an issue that’s genuinely a problem for you. I can’t count the times I’ve let myself be led astray by a piece of technology because it’s cool before realising that actually it’s completely superfluous to my life and doesn’t add any discernible value, it’s another dashboard/profile that I need to check in with; a statistic measured for it’s own sake.

Second up, think about whether effective use of this technology would require any lifestyle changes. In theory, you might be open to the idea of changing some part of your family life, but change usually requires commitment and discipline; if you’re not ready to see it through, you might want to hold off purchasing. On the other hand, some technology feels like it just slots into the way you’re already doing things, this is great, as long as it’s solving a genuine problem as discussed above.

Thirdly, check out some online reviews. Yes there can be all sorts of issues with review systems, so I’m not inclined to just trust the numbers posted. Instead scan through some of the written reviews and check out both some of the more detailed positive reviews to get an overall feel for the way the product works (detailed reviews often also mention areas for improvement), then scan a selection of negative reviews to see if there are any recurring themes that might put you off (note that it’s best to check the most recent reviews, especially with apps, as new updates often address older issues).

If you’ve gone through these three stages and you’re still feeling positive about making the download, you may well be onto a winner. When parenting tech gets it right, it can be a real lifesaver.

Check out our blog for regular advice on getting the most out of a variety of inbuilt parental control systems and reviews for ‘healthy screen time’ app options.

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