We’re saved! Smartphones and tablets are going to turn us into superdads and our kids into successful computer scientists one day! Or at least that’s what we like to tell ourselves. Really, we just need every bit of help we can get to make it through those first few months and then a way to occasionally keep them quiet whilst we try and get something productive done, like maybe washing the car, mowing the lawn or watching last night’s trash reality TV with the catatonic 1,000-yard stare that only sleep deprived parents can relate to. But seriously, there are plenty of apps out there to make your life as a parent easier and to keep the little ones entertained whilst also having the semblance of stimulating their brain and firing their creativity, rather than just turning them into smartphone zombies, although we’re not making any promises. Here’s five every dad should own…
Hoop – What’s on for kids (Free, iOS/Android)
Finding a way to keep your kids entertained in the summer holidays, or even a regular weekend can be a real problem. Luckily the Hoop app has you covered. Just type in the ages of your kids, then your postcode and it tells you what activities there are happening for kids in your local area. Everything is linked up to Google Maps, so you can find the event, and it’s easy to send a link to it over email, Facebook or Twitter too, so you can suggest it to other mums and dads. You’ll never be stuck for something to do with the kids ever again!
Quick Tips For New Dads (£1.99, iOS/Android)
This one might be too late for you, if you’re reading this, but we owe it to expectant fathers to spread the word about Quick Tips For New Dads. Written by dads for dads it gives no nonsense, no waffle, simple, practical advice, that really works for pretty much any situation you might find yourself in as a new parent – everything you should and shouldn’t do with a baby.
Stop Motion Studio (Free, iOS/Android)
Your tablet or smartphones come with a camera, and Stop Motion Studio puts it to good use by helping your kids create their own stop-motion animated adventures. The app has features, like a grid and preview mode, that help them get stop motion techniques just right. It also has everything you need to edit and finalise your production. If you combine this app with a few sets of Lego then you’ve got the perfect afternoon’s movie making fun for those rainy days that plague the holidays.
Minecraft: Pocket Edition (£6.99, iOS/Android)
You’ll have heard of Minecraft already, but you might not realise that there’s a version of it for smartphones and tablets. The Pocket Edition forked off from the PC edition yonks ago, so it’s not exactly the same game (it’s more limited), but it’s still great fun – and here’s the clever bit: you can join the world’s of other players on the same WiFi network very easily, no matter what type of tablet they are on. We found that when we went on holiday our son was able to jump into games with other kids staying in the same resort without a problem, and he made some new friends that way.
YouTube Kids (Free, iOS/Android)
Kids love YouTube, but it’s an absolute minefield of unexploded F-word bombs and terrible behaviour that you don’t want your little ones getting exposed too. Luckily, YouTube make a kids version, which is essentially the same as the full app, but with the content filter permanently set to “strict”. In theory your kids are now safe to browse through whatever comes up without you having to worry that they’re learning naughty words or how to become a terrorist. You can make it even safer and turn off the search features too, if you just want to go with what YouTube suggests as their next video.