Put Down Your Phone, Pick Up Your Kid.  #MindfulTech

Now There’s An APP For That

So far in our #MindfulTech series in 2016, we’ve discussed the best apps for your smartphone for enhancing productivity and quality of life. We’ve also talked about using that time you save for your family, and making sure you don’t let a smartphone obsession get in the way of that special time you do spend with them.

That’s why, when I recently read about a new product from Parento, an Israeli start-up, it really grabbed my attention. It really combines both thoughts in an interesting way.

Making Smartphones Part of the Solution

Smartphone users take a fair amount of heat. Statistics are reported on how much time they spend on their phones, even while driving. Commercials and viral videos make fun of people who walk into doors or fall into public fountains because they are paying too much attention to the screens on those phones.

Even I recently criticized a commercial that showed a man playing a “dance” video game  with his son, but clearly not enjoying it and sneaking looks at his cellphone constantly. But here’s reality: smartphones aren’t going anywhere, and with the pace and stress of business and our over-programmed lives, we aren’t likely to “demote” their importance to our daily lives.

That’s where this new product comes in.  It’s called O’Daddy (don’t confuse it with the Web domain provider – you won’t find this one among Super Bowl advertisers). O’Daddy is an app (available for Android and iPhone) that actually reminds and encourages users to put down those phones and spend time with their children. So the phone app convinces you to use the phone less!

Encourages Play In Many Ways

O’Daddy works on several levels; it can send you message notifications to remind you of important deadlines. Think “you’d better leave work now if you want to get home in time to read a bedtime story to Anna.”

But it gets more interesting. You can enter your location, the ages of your children and other factors, and the phone will actually suggest appropriate activities you could plan with them. In the process, it can tell you what activities other parents in similar situations have entered. The app also helps you keep track of what activities you’ve done with your kids, and lets you see how you are doing on “time spent” in comparison to those other parents.

By tapping a button to activate the app, you enter a “Quality Time” phase that indicates you have put your phone aside and are interacting with your kids. The phone tracks that amount of time, and awards you an “O’Daddy Smile” for each 15 minutes of this time spent with the kids. Future plans call for those “smiles” to be redeemable for cash discounts at leading retailers.

Getting Paid to Play

I can hear some people complaining already. “Give me a break, you need to be rewarded with discounts to get you to play with your kids? It’s bad enough you have to be reminded in the first place.” Or something like that.

I guess in my view, I’ve learned that the world just doesn’t go backwards. If smartphones are that important to people, it’s better to work them into the plan than to just complain about them. I’ll go for the bottom line – if it helps you spend more time with loved ones, I think it’s clearly #MindfulTech at work.  If you’re interested in this O’Daddy app, it’s available for download at the iTunes App Store and at Google Play.

I’d like to know what you think of this app. Does the idea of parents getting “reminders” or help from their smartphones to play with their kids strike you as a clever use of technology, or just another incursion of technology into a place it isn’t needed? Give me a call, and let’s talk about it.

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