Tech often gets a raw deal when it comes to family life. Headlines tell us that under 9s are spending 2 hours a day glued to devices and that it’s impacting their health and wellbeing. But what if technology could actually hold the key to better family life and a happier home? The relationship between the Internet of Things and the workplace has been explored, but how about its impact on the home? In fact, the IoT holds a lot of promise for families; reducing the time spent on chores and admin, and opening up possibilities for more responsible, broadly educated kids and less hassle, more empowered parents.
With the average family with school-aged kids spending just 37 minutes together on a weekday, life is quickly overtaken with appointments, chores, and admin. Using smart tech to take care of every day is a great way to free up time for each other. Now more than ever, there are gadgets to make life easier and smarter, from smart light bulbs which can be brighter for homework time, to precision cookers which can take care of dinner while you pick up the kids from soccer practice. Using the latest time-saving apps such as Remember The Milk or My Life Organized means you can coordinate everyday life from your phone, managing to-do lists and tasks effectively.
Teach your kids responsibility
Research has shown that giving kids chores to do improves their self-esteem and helps them to be more responsible. The IoT provides lots of opportunities for children to be given responsibility for tasks which they can manage and will actually find fun. Who wouldn’t want to use a voice-controlled robot vacuum cleaner? You can use apps to track and praise their efforts, and they can connect their devices to track their steps, listen to podcasts or revise subjects while they work.
The IoT opens up educational possibilities to children which their parents and grandparents could never have imagined. Perhaps one of the earliest examples is e-learning, which has allowed people to study even if they are unable to physically attend a school. Schools are also able to update their teaching methods to reach out to more students; when offered interactive learning materials including 3D graphics textbooks, some children are able to process and absorb information more effectively. At home, educational apps and games put the power to learn literally into your kids’ hands on their smartphones or tablets. As a parent, you can use apps to track their achievements, and for teachers, it is also easier to monitor pupils’ progress and spot any areas for development.
Flexible working for family life
Advances in tech have made a huge difference to those who want to work flexible hours; the latest data shows that’s at least 43% of American workers. With a laptop, smartphone and WiFi, it is now possible to work from almost anywhere. Apps such as Slack are great for communicating with colleagues, and storing files on the cloud or using a Dropbox means that working parents can access and share the information they need at all times. This makes you better equipped to juggle family life with the demands of work, and to be present as much as possible for the family milestones you don’t want to miss. Being contactable 24/7 can be a double-edged sword though; make sure you still make time to switch off.
A smart household can also help to empower those who are less able to contribute independently, for example by giving them the means to answer the door for deliveries, control the temperature or order the food shop without having to rely on others. Apps such as Accessibility Scanner can even help to make other apps more user-friendly by improving the text size or background contrast. This may be particularly important for seniors in the family, who perhaps want to take the pressure off their adult children and help care for their grandkids, or for members of the family who use a wheelchair but still want to be independent and helpful. Far from being ‘new fangled’ or confusing, the IoT offers everyone in the family a meaningful way in which they can contribute to household life.
The Internet of Things is already helping workplaces to run more efficiently. Applying the same technology in our homes will free up time currently spent on admin and chores. It also provides a brilliant opportunity for every member of the family to contribute to the household, and to feel valued and appreciated too. Even better, the money you save by having greater efficiency with your heating, lighting and grocery planning could be spent on vacations or other fantastic family experiences; the IoT can make for a very happy household indeed.