“Download the BingBongDingDong messaging app and join our group so that we can send out important class information….”
As I read the note posted on the door of my son’s church class, I felt the dread creep up. Another app. There’s the app for his church class, and his school class and the app for my daughter’s school class (same school, but different apps of course) and the app for soccer and the app for our orthodontist and the app for…. I could go on and on about the apps required for just my kids life events but, well, you get it.
It’s a lot.
I’m sure I’m not the only parent out there who deals with this. My phone routinely fusses at me that I’m almost out of storage space, and the number of notifications I get every day is overwhelming. I’m trying to cut down on my screen time and reliance on my phone (who isn’t, amiright?) but it’s so hard when it feels like absolutely everything in life now requires an app to function. With almost every required app I end up asking, what even IS the point of this? From what I can tell, most apps could be easily replaced by a basic group email using the good old blind cc line. The fact that I can’t mark attendance or do anything remarkable after downloading school apps leaves me steaming at every request from another well-meaning teacher or organization. Maybe there’s something easier about the interface on the administrator end that I just can’t see that makes things drastically easier for them. I suspect, however, since it’s not linked to grading or attendance, it’s likely another box they just have to check as well.
I took a picture of the sign on the door with the app and group name, dropped my son off and headed home. My husband already had this app on his phone, and I asked him to join the group instead.
“Sure, but why is this such a big deal to you?” he asked as he added himself to the group.
“Do you know how many apps I have just to manage two of our four kids activities? I’m not including the store apps for the places I order their clothes from, or restaurants they prefer, or anything else- just basic participation in kid life. Apps that serve no function other than that one single thing that our child participates in.”
He admitted he had no clue- he has zero of those apps.
Seven. I have seven, and our kids aren’t particularly busy children, and this isn’t even all of our kids. My phone chirps at me all day long, and it’s almost never important. Every now and then there’s a notification that I need, but more often it’s asking me to upgrade to the premium package, or wishing me a Happy Halloween (and telling me the best treat would be to upgrade to the premium package). I turned off all notifications at one point, but then I was missing the actual messages I needed to see because why would I open any of these apps unless I was told to do so?
It seems like a whiney, small problem when I look at it individually, but the bottom line is that when added to the normal pulls and pushes of life, this contributes to the overall noise and stress parents feel- and to no real advantage. It got me mulling over possible solutions- and wondering if there really are any out there. I don’t want to be the outlier parent that makes extra work for our already overstretched teachers by asking for an email when they send out something through the app for the rest of the class, but I can email the school and ask if they would consider consolidating the whole school to one app next year.
I can turn off notifications for sports apps, and just be sure to double check an hour before practices and games that locations haven’t been changed or cancelled. I know it’s not an option for everyone (I hear submarines don’t get great cell phone reception) but I’m also going to ask my spouse to take on some of the apps for the activities with the kids he participates in as frequently as I do. And finally, I’ve started telling places no. In the kindest, firmest way, I tell them I’m not downloading their app but am easily reachable by phone, text, or email. Their choice, I’ll answer all of those avenues, but it’s a no on the app. I’m saving my phone storage space for the things that really matter- screenshots of recipes I will literally never make and every text message I’ve ever exchanged with my sisters.
A week after my husband joined the church messaging group, he told me that he wanted out. He was tired of getting a ping every time someone replied to the group conversation regarding snacks and when the next parent meeting would be. I laughed at him and told him no.