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5 Apps That Are Ruining Parenthood

Photograph by Twenty20

With all the latest technology at our fingertips it's truly an amazing time to be a parent. But all this tech stuff changes the way we parent and takes away some of the "unknowns" in raising kids—sometimes for better, other times for worse.

Sure, we can pick and choose the apps or tech gadgets that fit our parenting philosophy. I just wonder if we're ditching some of the most important parts of being a parent along the way. Here are a few of the latest parenting innovations that just might be ruining parenthood.

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1. MonBaby

This tech gadget is like a baby monitor that you attach to your baby's clothing or sleeper. MonBaby can tell you if your baby is breathing and whether she has rolled over in her sleep into a potentially dangerous tummy position. With measurements taken five times per second, you will know in real time via iPhone or Android app if there is something going on in the crib. You can also use it for fall detection, as it will alert you immediately if your little walker has fallen.

While I can see that this gadget might buy new parents some peace of mind, my anxiety would be increased tenfold if I had real-time updates on the movements of my wiggly little girl. One of the best parts of parenting a newborn for me was sneaking in and watching them sleep. Sure, I may have leaned in close to make sure she was breathing—but you just can't get that from an app. And if my toddler kid fell down I most certainly knew within seconds, either from the big loud thud or the crying. Don't need an app for that.

2. Starling

Early childhood educators have long been telling parents that we need to talk to our kids, starting at birth. Hearing spoken language throughout the day helps them gain their own communication skills and is critical to success in school. The Starling counts how many words are spoken to your child each day and shows you how close you are to reaching your goal. "With just 10 minutes of engaging conversation a day, your child can build a vocabulary that is 30 million words ahead. Without it, a child can just as easily fall 30 million words behind."

Pressure, much? I loved chatting with my babies and watching their reactions to my babbling and cooing. But slap an app in there and all bets are off. You can be damn sure I would read "Goodnight Moon" and 20 other books in a row to meet my word goal for the day. The Starling even analyzes the quality of your chatter and posts stats to help you "improve" your dialogue. Don't fret, by the time your wee one is in middle school a simple eye roll will update you on the uselessness of your words.

3. Pregnancy Pro—First Response

Remember peeing on a stick and watching the lines develop (or not)? Apparently that was too difficult for most of us to handle, and there's now an app for that. In the spring of 2016 First Response jumps into the tech market with the first ever Bluetooth-enabled pregnancy test. Yes, seriously. Download the app, sync the stick and wait. But this isn't your mother's pregnancy test. Pregnancy Pro gives you step-by-step instructions and helps you pass the waiting time with distractions to reduce your stress. As if moms don't have enough distractions—like the 8-year-old kid banging on the bathroom door asking if bubblegum is OK for dogs to eat and the 3-year-old shoving LEGO pieces under the door. Isn't it more fun to stare blankly at the pee stick trying to count backwards and figure out which night you drank one-too-many margaritas? Plus, the text/email results option kind of ruins the fun of seeing the reaction on your partner's face when you break the news.

4. Family Tracker

We all know you can use Track My iPhone to secretly keep track of your kids, but why stop there? Don't just track the kids, keep tabs on your whole family, your BFF and your college-aged sister! You can use Family Tracker to watch and follow anyone, as long as they accept your request.

This might put anxious parents at ease, but isn't it a little invasive? If my kid tells me he is going over to a friend's house, I have no reason to doubt him. I might even add, "text me when you get there!" as he walks out the door. But it seems a bit over-the-top to track his every move, and this removes an important part of parenting: trust. I think kids only grow when they know they have been trusted to do what they say and be responsible for their whereabouts. With this app, I'm pretty sure I would go all Navy Seal on my kids and watch their feed constantly. Nothing good can come from that. The best part of this app? Get your kid's attention by using the "play a loud, annoying siren" option if your tween is ignoring your message attempts. Humiliation is at the root of all parenting genius, after all.

5. Alarm.com

Now we're talking security, not just tracking. Alarm.com functions as a security system with the ability to remotely activate the alarm, turn lights off or on and monitor security cameras. But the super-cool parenting features give parents the sense that they are suddenly all-knowing and powerful. You can set alerts for all sorts of things that happen when you aren't home—from the time the kids arrive home from school until you walk in the door. Is someone snooping around in the liquor cabinet? Is the thermostat set at a balmy 90 degrees? Did someone feed the cat? It's so much better to know what's going on than to let your kids make a few mistakes and sweat it out waiting for you to discover them.

Any parent who has found their vodka a bit watered down or come home to the air conditioning running full blast with all doors and windows open knows that this part of parenting shouldn't be taken for granted.

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So while I love me some tech, I'm not sure how much we are gaining as parents with some of these gadgets. Now excuse me, I need to strap on my Fitbit and walk laps around the kitchen.

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