Sure there are a million reasons smartphones are bad for parents. Maybe not a million, but according to Google, there are 475,000 websites that talk about the negative combination of smartphones and parenting.
Here are the reasons having my phone actually helps my parenting…
Instant access to a camera and a video camera. Without a smartphone, I wouldn’t have some of my absolute favorite pictures of my kids. There are also numerous places I’ve taken video, where I simply wouldn’t have been able to if I’d needed to bring a video camera (a most recent example of this was our ski trip).
FaceTime. The ability to call grandma is awesome, but being able to no only speak to her, but to see her and for her to be able to SEE the kids when she talks to them is incredible. The only downside to this is, you may have to make the kids look a little more presentable than if it was just a regular phone call. At least make sure your kids are clothed, or at a minimum, make sure they’re wearing underwear, ok…at least make sure YOU are wearing underwear.
My smartphone has a timer. The only way I can get my kids to end most of their activities it to give them a warning first. I usually say something like, we can play for 10 more minutes, then we have to leave. That’s when I set a timer on my phone. When it goes off, 90% of the time they understand that it’s time to move on. It’s no longer me telling them what to do, it’s not just me being mean, it’s simply the timer going off.
Calendar. Play dates. School programs. Doctor’s Appointments. Community Events. Karate practice. Swim meets. Remember having to get back to someone because you had to go home to check the family calendar to see if you were available to do something? Now I have our family calendar (synced with my wife’s work schedule) with me, all the time. There is a MUCH greater chance of me making it to these activities if they’re right in front of me, as opposed to written on a scrap of paper and stuffed in my pocket hoping to make it to my wall calendar at home. With a smartphone, it’s all right there in my hand. Wherever I am.
Calculator. My homework helper. Who has time to cheek 4th grade math by hand?
Flashlight. For those times when your kid drops her “very favorite purple pony” under the van seat. Or change the flashlight setting to “strobe light” and turn on the kids’ favorite Taylor Swift or Katy Perry songs for an instant dance party!
Games. There are so many times I need to talk to another adult. I don’t mean I want to talk to another adult, I mean I NEED to talk to an adult. If I’m out around town with my kids in tow, and I need to talk, the games on my phone become an instant babysitter. Star Wars Angry Birds, Minecraft, and Mazes, all distract my kids long enough for me to have an adult conversation.
There you have it. You talk to me about smartphones being bad for parents all you want, but I’m probably not going to listen, ’cause I’ll be using my phone.