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I Use My iPhone to Be a Better Parent

How Facetime, Skype, and other technologies help working parents stay connected to home.

I'm a full-time working mom and one of growing number of female primary breadwinners in the United States. One of the perks of my work is that I occasionally get to travel to different parts of the country for conferences or meetings. But these trips, as well as the days I spend at work when my kids are home for the summer, can be hard on my family.

But, luckily, I'm a working mom in the age of Facetime, Skype, and other apps that can help me stay in touch with my kids.

When I was a kid, my mom would call me after school to make sure I got home OK and wasn't watching too many soap operas while I waited for her to get off work. But as most parents know, a phone call can be tricky with kids -- especially younger ones who haven't mastered the art of conversation.

Video-chatting with my kids while I'm on a layover in Detriot helps keep us in touch, even if my kids don't have a lot to say. Often the conversations will go something like, "Where are you? Show us!" And whenever I check into a hotel, the kids are eager to see every part of the room: "Show us the bathroom! Where are you going to sleep? What does it look like out your window?"

When they're spending long summer days at home with their dad while I'm at my office many miles away, I can make time for a quick Facetime chat at my desk. They can tell me what they ate for lunch, and I can show them my messy desk. These mundane details help us all feel more connected, and the visuals of the video-chat give them more context.

Other new technologies help bridge the distance, too. With apps like Tapikeo, Book Creator, Read to Kids, and customizable storybook apps I can record myself reading a favorite story so I can be there at bedtime even if I'm across the country. And while I like Facetime for video-chatting, there's also Skype, Google+, and Facebook video chat.

As much as I miss my kids when I travel or when they're hanging out at home without me, I like that they get to see me doing something I love, and they get to come along (virtually) for the ride.

What tech tools help you as a parent?

Sierra Filucci
Sierra is a journalist with a special interest in media and families. She has a master's degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, and she's been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. As her kids get older, Sierra has developed a special fascination with youth culture, including YouTubers, gamers, social media, and slang. When she's not watching Marvel movies and Parks and Recreation with her kids, she enjoys reading young adult books, walking her dog, and streaming dystopian thrillers late at night.