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The Case for Parenting Technology

Blog

The Case for Parenting Technology

Pierre Séguin

The other day, we promoted a Facebook post announcing Brili's recently-released Task Time visualization feature. Not exactly a shining social media marketing moment, it attracted just one comment:

why don't you just watch them with your own two eyes we don't need apps for everything

D'oh!

Though I'm pretty sure this lady didn't really look into our product and what it does before she left her comment, I can understand where she's coming from. In this increasingly connected world where screens are ubiquitous and screen time itself is controversial, there are a lot of reasons to take a deep calming breath, put down our electronic devices and just be present for our kids.

(In fact, if you're with your children right now, please take a moment and do just that!)

Ideally, we parents would be a reliable, consistent and patient guiding presence for our children whenever they need it. So why the heck aren't we?

The Challenges Parents Face

Let's look at some of the real-life obstacles to perfect parenting:

In a nutshell, we're only human.

But are we allowed to use that as an excuse? It's incumbent upon us to address these challenges to the fullest extent of our capabilities, right? Society has done a pretty decent job of making this expectation clear. The pressure is on us to be perfect parents.

Innovation to the Rescue

Pressures like these are why people innovate. Someone innovated by realizing that consistent routines are helpful for children and by sharing that knowledge. Someone else had the great idea to set an egg timer to ring when a child's time for a task ran out. Some inventive parent made the first chore chart and stuck it a wall. These innovations are tools that people came up with as ways to help parents overcome just some of the challenges of raising kids. (Clearly, we needed help.)

The latest innovations in parenting are simply the newest steps along the evolutionary path as our lives and circumstances change, making some of our old tools inadequate.

But like any tool, technologies can be misused.

Photo credit: Justin Baeder

Photo credit: Justin Baeder

What Technology Is Terrible At

Computers and software are getting better and better but they still have serious limitations for the time being. 

  • Computers can't make your kids feel safe and loved;
  • Computers can't observe and interpret what your kids are doing and how they're behaving in real life;
  • Computers can't coach your kids on their behavior;
  • Computers can't come up with and set reasonable boundaries;
  • Computers can't listen and have a meaningful discussion.

Whether this state of affairs is permanent, or a good or a bad thing is not the topic of this post but could serve as fodder for nerdy and futuristic philosophical musings at a later time.

Anyway, I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb by saying that parents are ill-advised to rely on technology to handle these things on their behalf.

What Technology is Awesome At

  • Connecting people when they otherwise can't be face to face;
  • Aggregating and visualizing lots of information in a way digestible to humans;
  • Keeping track of time;
  • Doing math;
  • Being patient;
  • Remembering stuff (like routine orders and rewards earned);
  • Being perfectly consistent.

I'm not blowing anyone's mind with this, am I? We humans (generally) design our technologies to augment us where we need it most.

It's Not a Competition

It comes down to parents and technology being good at different things. The iPad isn't going to lose its cool with your kid because it had a bad day, and it's not going to get distracted by an urgent email from its pointy-haired boss. But let's be clear: it's not a substitute parent. It is, however, a tool you can judiciously apply to assist you in your parenting duties.

So it's not a question of choosing an app over watching our kids with our "own two eyes". Of course we need to be engaged directly, personally, with our children. Parents and the technologies we design to assist us are not in competition with each other. Not any more than a carpenter competes with a measuring tape, or a doctor competes with a stethoscope.


Thanks for reading! We appreciate your comments and hope you'll take a moment to see how Brili's exclusive real-time monitoring, reward tracking and time charting capabilities can become useful additions to your parenting toolkit.