If you’re a parent in today’s tech-obsessed world, you’ll probably find that digital has helped you out a fair few times or allowed you to treasure that precious moment forever.
In honour of fathers day, we’re revisiting our Digital Dads at SGM blog from last year. The past year has seen new GIANT dads enter the mix, and others find more ways to implement digital into their parenting regimes. We rounded up a few to tell us all about their favourite digital Dad-ing tips, tricks and tools.
I’ve spent the last nine weeks on Shared Parental Leave, looking after my two girls, Noa and Bo. I’ve used Instagram stories to document the last nine weeks and the fun I’ve had, to inspire others to take up SPL and to keep my girls entertained. My eldest even does her own takeovers on my account (@danny.windsor).
You can use digital and tech in a fun, non-intrusive way like an extension of play time. For example, I’ve set loads of IFTTs with my Google Home so, when I ask “Who is Bo Windsor?” it says “She is the prettiest curly haired four-year-old girl. I will flash the lights in celebration of her beauty. I wish I was Bo.” Google then proceeds to flash my Philips Hue lights about my home, awesome right?
Pixar and the power of digital animation have been the best for my children. Without it, we’d have no Moana, Nemo and Frozen! They keep their attention span over and over again.
One big change compared to last year is that my daughter is now starting to explore YouTube and has her favourite YouTubers. I have to admit a degree of trepidation at this development, although so far it is all very craft-focused. She is still an avid reader so I’m happy there is a reasonable balance between digital and analogue.
The Osprey backpack is still going strong! We have had some great family days out getting to places you wouldn’t go with a buggy.
I use my iPhone all the time to capture memories. Having a reasonably decent camera with you most of the time means that when your child starts to do something particularly wacky you have a great opportunity to capture it – and make them squirm with embarrassment in 15 years time.
In terms of apps, my son’s favourite game to play (occasionally) is one where we drive a bus very slowly around a town, picking up and dropping off passengers as we go. An adrenaline-packed drive with plenty of traffic lights. Sometimes it even rains… That said, digital screen time only makes up a small percentage of overall play time with a natural preference towards storybooks & playing outside in the mud.
A lot has happened in the last year. Not only have my kids become a whole year older – but the way they interact with the world around them has also changed.
Google taught them how to shout commands and make Daddy’s speakers make animal noises, but Alexa is now making them say please with the new ‘magic word’ update.
As we’ve already talked about, YouTube took some heat recently for not filtering kids videos appropriately. I haven’t really experienced anything personally with my kids seeing inappropriate videos, but I did pick up on some other sides of YTK that I wasn’t 100% happy with. Most of the videos on YouTube Kids are videos of other kids playing – call me old-fashioned, but some of the kids on there show personality traits that I don’t want my kids emulating. This sent me on a hunt for an alternative – which is where I found Jellies! More than just the unboxing of new toys and ego-driven online “stars,” Jellies uses curation that isn’t just based on humans, it’s based on that of human parents.
Another major shift in my parenting over the last year is my eldest son’s interest in retro computer games. Seeing my kids, who are used to touchscreen-based apps, get to learn tactile interaction through an NES controller, is one of the most exciting experiences of my Dad life to date! This interest has opened up a whole new branch of entertainment for my kids. Next stop is Interland!
I use The Wonder Weeks app a lot to justify to my wife why Faye may be a bit needy at times, due to her developmental leaps. It really helps! I also use an Angelcare baby monitor, it checks breathing and has an infrared camera so we can see her at night.
Whatsapp/iOS Apps are great for storing and sharing all of your photos with family and friends -it helps them stay in touch even if they don’t see Faye every day.
Now Faye is 9 months, she loves Teletubbies! She doesn’t watch a lot of video, but we use it to help keep her entertained at specific times of the day. Faye also loves Alexa, we use it to sing nursery rhymes to her at breakfast and in the evenings.
Philips Hue Lights are helping us get Faye into loving bath and bedtime! When the lights go blue, Faye crawls to the bath. When they go orange, she is starting to realise it’s bedtime.
You can’t beat real face to face time with your baby though, seeing her crawl to me when I come home from work and watching her analyse my facial expressions makes my day.
As a family, we’re still loving WhatsApp. It’s great for receiving photos of what Karlie & Maisie are up to during the day while I’m at work. Facetime is also brilliant for Maisie to video call Nanny & Grandad and have a chat with them.
Maisie is currently loving the iPad – Bing & Mr Tumble at her little fingertips is mind-blowing for her.
The baby led weaning app is a great source of new recipes for us all to try.
iPads and iPhones, whilst not the things I want to be the go-to as my son develops, are great aids, particularly when travelling! I’m not sure what I would have done on a recent 24-hour flight to Australia without an iPad packed with cartoons… but also great educational apps!
The one thing that has had the biggest impact on me is my new iPhone X, more specifically the new Portrait setting within the camera app… it’s awesome! I have never been a particularly good photographer, and as such tended not to capture many or enough photos of Lincoln as he’s been growing up. However, with this new app, it makes capturing the perfect image so easy, I can’t help myself! My devices and cloud account are now filling with great family shots, something I am going to be doing more when my second child arrives in the Autumn.
For me, phone photography tech is not only making things easier but also motivating me to create more digital memories!
The Wonder Weeks app and book tell you, with great accuracy, when your child is going through their learning leaps. These generally leave them confused and moody, so it has been a godsend to know when these are coming up and how to help them through their leap. James has just finished his last leap where he learnt about principles, and I can see him trying to figure out how to get to his goals. This has helped us push him to learn the right things at the right time.
For myself, I have been using Headspace and Buddhify to focus and give myself some time to meditate. My day starts anywhere between 4:30am and 6am and doesn’t stop until 8pm. Not having a lot of time to yourself means you can be tired and irritable, so getting 10 minutes to yourself to unwind has really helped me at the end of an 18 – 20 hour day. This means I can focus on the little one and give him the attention he deserves, rather than being distant and tired.
My Ouvis camera is still going strong and has meant when he is asleep we can relax knowing we can hear if he wakes up. This gives me and my wife some time to chat through our days and catch up on non-baby related stuff.
We have been using an iPod when he is asleep, to play all our favourite music to him and give him some background music. This has helped him sleep, and he has sometimes slept through the night since we invested our time in putting together this playlist.
Got any digital Dad tools you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments below. Otherwise, have an awesome Father’s Day to all the Dads out there!