We hear a lot about families spending too much time distracted by digital devices and annoyed by the loss of quality family time together but sometimes our digital devices do have family-friendly benefits. Below is a list of several apps that can help family members stay connected and coordinated.
SLACK: Family Facebook Network:
To start with is an app called Slack. Touted as “Team communication for the 21st century”, Slack acts much like a mini-network and functions as your own private social network. It’s as simple to use as Facebook, but much more customizable. In addition, you can use the bulk of the service for free though there are extra options that will cost you. Popular with small companies and work groups who need to share information and plan projects, Slack works well for families too. You begin by including several people in a group, and then you can create distinct channels within the group. Perhaps one channel is parents-only communication, while others are for parents with each kid. Maybe another includes the whole family plus grandparents, aunts and uncles. You can post anything from private messages and daily schedules to photos or URLs. Slack also serves as a free messaging app, and you can use it to store PDFs of things like the address of a restaurant or a flight itinerary. And you can integrate it with Google Calendar and Google Drive. One thing to keep in mind though is you can respond to a family member’s post with emojis but you can’t create a conversation thread by commenting on it. The app’s developers say that feature is coming soon. It’s currently available as a desktop app for Mac, Windows and Linux along with having mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. You can find more information on their website at www.slack.com
LIFE360: Family Member Locator:
Life360 is an app that has the ability to find and keep track of each and every family member with a digital device. For the most part, this app keeps families and close friends connected, no matter what chaos life throws their way. Once you add family members to your account, you can check their cell phones’ locations via GPS at any time. Want to know if your child’s bus is nearing home? Or if your spouse has left work yet? It’s all there. In testing the app, I found that it sometimes confuses locations that are very close. If two places are near each other, Life360 may tell you that a family member has arrived at one when they’re actually at the other. So the app is helpful but not infallible. The free version works well, but you’re limited to logging just two locations. You can find more on their website at: www.life360.com and it’s available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
WISTIKI: Never Lose a Personal Item Again:
If the idea of never again losing your keys, phone or other important items is pretty appealing then my next app called “Wistiki” you won’t be able to do without. Wistiki offers small cards, tags and key fobs that can be tracked with the app. You attach them to something you treasure (your wallet, your dog, your TV remote or children). Then if (when) you can’t find the item, you can make the Wistiki sound an alarm. If it’s not close enough for you to hear, you can look at the app to find its location. One of the best features of this service is if your lost item are in range of anyone else’s Wistiki, theirs will anonymously (and without their knowledge) send GPS coordinates to the system. So other people are essentially helping find your stuff and you’re helping find theirs, without having to do anything. What’s neat is that parents can attach the wistiki tags to a child’s backpack, coat or other item that tends to get misplaced by little ones. And so, all that time you no longer spend searching for your lost item is time you can devote to face-to-face conversation with family members. Wistiki comes in three shapes and four colors and you can find more informatio n on their website at www.wistiki.com.
Slack Tutorial. Inbox Zero for Everything by: dottotech