Category Archives: Digital Dads

Digital Dads: Together Time App For iPhone

Playtime with your little dude is the best time.

No matter how much time you dudes are able to spend with the little dudette, it’s never enough to have all the fun you want to show her.

Oddly enough, though, there are some dads who get stage fright when it’s time to play. They’ll sit down, face the little dude and then go completely blank, with absolutely no idea whatsoever to do.

Which explains the continuing popularity of television as a babysitter.

Fortunately for those sorts of dudes, the folks at 7Potato have put together a little iPhone app to help you over the rough spots.

This is from their release.

Parents everywhere have superpowers! Unfortunately this power is often dormant because most parents don’t even know they have it. No, it’s not flying or shooting spider webs from wrists, but it does involve spiders of another sort: “Itsy Bitsy Spiders.” As handy as flying and web spinning would be for wrangling little ones, parental superpowers are far better and have a greater impact on the world.

 The Power of Play

The superpower that all parents have is play; it is something that we all share, but like Peter Pan, parents often forget how to play. If only there were an app for that. Well, now there is: Together Time with Song and Rhyme is a new app that helps parents bond with their preschoolers through fun, tickles, songs, and rhymes that support early childhood development.

 “Together Time makes parents more FUN for kids,” said Laura James, the app’s creator and founder of 7Potato.com. “Childhood is a once-upon-a-time opportunity, it only lasts a few short years. It’s easy for parents to spend too many of those years focused on trying to getting kids to behave in our adult world, when we could be using our superpower to make us child-like again.”

Parents are better served when they practice living in their children’s world and play.

“It’s more of a Jane Goodall approach,” James said, “where you observe and behave like the little creatures, to try and understand kids and their world, instead of trying to make the little creatures fit into your world.” 

Unfortunately, I can’t give you dudes a first-hand report on just how good this app really is, but it’s got 4.5 stars over at the iOS App Store. Just giving it the eyeball test, it sure looks darn good.

It’s only $4.99 at the App Store, which, in my mind, is low enough that you can take a flyer on the thing and see if it’s what you’re looking to find.

According to the release they sent, this sort of creative play can short-circuit bad behavior before it even begins. In looking over their strategy, I’ve got to say that a lot of the stuff they’re recommending is stuff that I used for my little dudes. Well, for the last little dude, mostly because it took until then to work out something that worked better than me gritting my teeth and hoping both of us would live through it.

Does your child refuse to get in the car? Start singing “Windshield Wiper” before you even get out the door. This helps set expectations for where you are going, rather than the seat they have to be strapped into, while giving your child a sense of fun.

 I’ve been talking a lot about jobs here lately. About a dad’s job. About a parent’s job. That sort of thing. One job I have yet to mention is the little dude’s job. And yeah, they do have one.

Their job is play. Playing with objects and people from the world around them will help acclimate them to their new surroundings and teach them how things work, what helps them and what hurts them.

“It supports their ongoing development physically, cognitively, and emotionally. One of the best parts of having kids is that it gives you an excuse to relive childhood. It goes by fast so have fun, play often and connect! If fun is the focus, learning will be the outcome, every time.”

Makes sense to me. If any of you dudes do download this app, please let me know how it works. I’d like to see if it is as good as it looks.

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Of Course That’s A Camera In Your Pocket. . . And You’re Glad To See Me

We’re raising the most overexposed generation in history.

Starting around five years or so ago, just about the time that cellphone cameras became good enough to produce things that resembled people rather more than they resembled colored blobs, parenting has begun to undergo a seismic shift.

Back in the good-old-days, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and I had to walk to school uphill — both ways — in the snow barefoot, while dodging alligators every single day, taking a picture of your little dude was a bit more of a production.

You had to get out the camera from the back of the closet, make sure there was film in the camera and it hadn’t gone bad. Then you had to make sure there was enough or it might run out in the middle of the photography session.

Once that was taken care of, it was off to find the perfect outdoor light because flashes back then were — at best — more inscrutable than instructive. Once the pictures were taken, you had to then wait until you’d finished the roll of film.

You’d take the exposed film to a camera shop, wait several weeks to have the pictures developed (without any touch ups or changes) and then eventually bring them home. If you were lucky, you got maybe one viewing of the photos. Maybe someone put together a scrapbook, but, once the pictures were in there, they weren’t coming out. Ever.

Cellphones, digital cameras and, most especially, the iPhone changed all of that. Suddenly, we had access to a camera all the time. Not only that, but we could take pictures anywhere or any time. Once it was taken, we could mess around with it, give ourselves mustaches, maybe change hair color or background or make it into a black-and-white picture. We could see it as many times as we wanted, send it to as many people as we wanted, do whatever we wanted as long as we wanted.

It was to photography what the free-love movement was to sex.

When I first started out as a parent, folks told me that we would take a bunch of photos of our first, much fewer of our next and, should we have a third, count ourselves lucky if we found one or two of that child.

Instead, we’ve got a lot of pictures of our first little dude. Of course. Not so many of our second son’s early years. Then, round about the time our youngest came along in 1999, things started to change. The number of photographs blossomed with the acquisition of our first digital camera.

Once we began to have good cameras on our phones, the number of photos slammed into an exponential growth curve.

Instead of it being a special occasion, now I take pictures all the time. Heck, when Hyper Lad and I checked into our hotel room when we went spring skiing, I took about ten photos of only the hotel room. Just to set the stage. In case I needed them for something.

It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even do much in the way of posing my subjects as I figure I’ll just start snapping away and eventually get the one I want without having to pose. Which is the good thing about digital iPhontography.

And the bad thing about digital iPhontography in that I have so many, it’s sometimes daunting to sit down and go through them all to find ones I want to save and see again.

Which is why all three of my young dudes flinch and start running away whenever I bring out the phone. They’re certain I’m going to start documenting them. Again.

And, for the most part, they’re usually right.

But the expense in time is well worth it. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent flipping through old digital photos, looking at my sons.

This might be the most overexposed, overphotographed generation in history, but I can’t make myself be worried. I love the idea that we’re going to be able to watch them grow up over and over again whenever we want to.

So, bring on Mr. DeMille because they’re ready for their close ups.

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Digital Dads: It’s That Time

Digital Dads is a sideline I’m exploring in which I’ll be talking about ways we dads can use modern technology to make our lives and those of our families so much easier.

Or at least not muck things up so much. Again, we dudes probably have slightly lower expectations. Just live with it.

So, here’s the deal.

For a while, I was the stay-at-home dad. I was responsible for my appointments, the appointments of three active young dudes and for knowing where and when would be my loving bride, known to me as She Who Must Not Be Late.

I wasn’t very good at it.

Of course, I had the wall calendar with appointments for each little dude in a different color, mine in black. That should have worked great. In fact it probably would have worked great if I had actually taken the time to look at the week’s worth of appointments before the week began.

I was always forgetting about one thing or another and having to race places that I should have been at with plenty of time. Or reschedule. It was a mess and a certain someone who did not have a Y chromosome, and yet lived in our house, was not happy about it.

And then the future arrived. With my futurephone, I found a much better way to actually keep track of appointments and remember them. I found the synching calendar.

Oh, what a joy.

I could still use the different colors for different little dudes, but this time they would each have their own separate Google calendar online. I could display each calendar together or by itself.

Even better, I could set alarms to go off which would remind me — in plenty of time — so I could actually go where I was supposed to go when I was supposed to be there.

Also, I could share those calendars with the wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Kept In The Loop, so she would know what was going on even if I wasn’t there.

Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect about this stuff. No, far from it. Still, this is a much better state of affairs now than it has been in the past.

If you don’t have this sort of set-up, you need to get one. Fast. If you do have a futurephone, start using your calendar program to fullest advantage. Put everything in there. And give it an alarm. It works. Once you get started with this and get used to the way it works, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Try google.com/calendar if you want to use something that can be seen by people who don’t have your phone in hand. That is, everyone else but you.

It really works.

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