Thursday, March 27, 2008

iPhone / iTouch : Geek Parents' Best Friend

Still looking for a reason to invest in an iPhone?  If you're the geeky parent of young children, here's a whole bunch of ways your new toy would be useful.  All tested by yours truly:

10) Audiobooks.  Fine, you loaded up your whole music collection.  But honestly, you can pretty much have music on in the background no matter what the kids are doing, can't you?  How often do you get a chance to sit down and read?  Head over to and load yourself up on some free audiobooks.  Whenever there's a break in the action, like waiting in the minivan to pick them up at school, you can be listening to books on a wide variety of topics and feel like you're actually making use of that time.

9) It's your honey-do list.  Many times over the years I've told myself I'll carry an organizer, or a voice recorder, or even just a pad of paper.  Something so I can take notes when an idea hits me, or something has to go on the to-do list.  Never kept it up for very long.  Well, my iTouch is in my pocket near constantly, so now I've always got something where I can type out a quick note to myself.  Especially handy when I've been sent for a quick grocery run on the way home from work and the list gets dictated to me over the phone.

8)  Backlight.  When checking on the kids before going to bed yourself, why turn on the lights, or reach for the flashlight?  One button turns the iTouch on, shining enough light to see that the little buggers are still breathing.  Also handy when your spouse goes to bed before you and you're emptying your pocket change, setting the alarm, etc... without waking her up.

7) It's an educational toy.  My daughters like to play games in the dark before going to bed.  Sometimes I'll bust out the iTouch to play letter and number games, like asking them what 2+2 is, or how to spell their name.  To do that on a piece of paper would require you leave the lights on.

6) It plays video.  Well yeah, duh, of course it does.  But at 6am on a Sunday morning when your 2yr old won't go back to sleep, and you're downstairs watching Elmo with the sound down low so you don't wake anybody up, you may be tempted to slip in just one earbud and actually watch one of your own shows, courtesy iPhone.  After all, the little guy is entranced by Sesame Street, he doesn't even know you're in the room. 

5) It plays video for them, too.  Want to know how to keep children occupied in the waiting room at the doctor's office?  Have a selection of kids' shows loaded up on your iTouch.  Works every time, even when they've seen the same episode 20 times.  I even use mine in the car in lieu of a portable DVD player, for short trips around town.  An FM transmitter broadcasts the sound through the car radio and I position the iPod behind my seat so kids can see it.

4) e-Book Reader.  It's not a great one, but the Safari browser that comes with the device has a sufficient PDF reader.   Many nights I've had a child falling asleep on one shoulder, holding him up with one hand while the other hand holds my iTouch where I can get some reading done.  Personally I find that turning the device sideways gets the best font size, although it means more pages to scroll through.  (Also good for reading email and RSS feeds). 

3) Clock.   Is it 2am or closer to 3?  Have you been in here rubbing the baby's back for 5 minutes or 20?  If you're already holding your backlit device where you can read books from it, you can see what time it is right in front of you.  Can also be used as a stopwatch/timer when it's time for timeouts.

2) No 911 (iTouch only).  No matter how many random buttons my son pushes on my iTouch, I know he's not going to call my friends (or the police) accidentally.  I can't say that about my cell phone.  So he can happily play with it while he is bored. I'm hoping the new SDK allows somebody to make a fingerpainting program.

1) Never say "I don't know" again.  Ever have the kids ask you a question where you don't know the answer, and you say "We should look that up on the computer'?  But right that moment you're not at the computer, so you'll do it later?  Well now you're holding an Internet-enabled device in your pocket.  Pull it out, right then and there, and answer the question. 

1 comment:

iPhone And said...

I think there are many finger painting programs now, like KidArt and EyeCandy. I have a blog on iPhone and Kids that you may want to check out also for more kids apps and tips for parents