IPhone applications can be wonderful tools for parenting. They can help with safety, bargain-hunting, organizing and finding activities. Some of the best are even free:
The playground advocates at Kaboom have created an ingenious app to help parents find playgrounds wherever they happen to be. The FBI just unveiled a new app to help parents in case their child gets lost or goes missing. There are countless other that can make the day a bit less stressful and more fun. A good list was compiled by USA Today this year.
But the rush to find the Next Big App has led to some questionable products. This week, I received a notice about one such new app: It times timeouts. Seriously.
Its makers at the Toronto-based Ripe Apps are trying to dub Tymoot the “ultimate mobile discipline tool.” A spokesman told me that the designer is a father of three who needed help timing his children’s concurrent timeouts.
Tymoot asks parents to store a child’s birth date and then computes the appropriate duration for a timeout. That might be useful if the rule of thumb on timeouts wasn’t already simple: They should last as many minutes as the child’s age. A 2-year-old gets 2 minutes, a 3-year-old 3 minutes. Not even the most mathematically challenged need help with this one.
It also features the medieval-sounding “Wheel of Punishment” and a forum for parents to share their disciplining ideas. Some of the amateur advice offered seems questionable, such as making a child watch a sibling get preferential treatment or forcing a boy to wear girl’s clothing against his will.
Tymoot is like too many apps. They exploit our vulnerabilities. We desperately need help with time management and along come these applications promising to save us time and make our chaotic lives run more smoothly. All they really do is add to our to-do-list.
As parents, our time and attention are already in high demand. There’s no reason to throw them away on unnecessary distractions.
Are you overwhelmed by apps too? Any other nominees for the most useless apps?