It’s safe to say that technology has taken a strong hold in daily life – becoming a requisite not only at the office, but also at home. Families use laptops, tablets and smartphones daily for leisure - scrolling through social media, playing video games, reading news and streaming movies or shows. We use these tools to check email and wrap up work after-hours, while kids often need them to complete homework assignments. Many Americans admit to being online almost constantly each day, according to a recent report by the Pew Research Center.
With so much tech at our fingertips, it’s important to keep an eye on usage and screen time - especially when it comes to your children. It’s also key to ensure that when your family is using tech, they’re using the right tools which can simplify daily routines, increase productivity and even give you time back in the day to spend with loved ones. Here are a few of the latest pieces of essential productivity tech that families can utilize in the coming year.
A smart home voice assistantA voice-enabled smart home assistant can help your family stay organized more easily than ever before. A smart speaker like the Amazon Echo helps users control connected home devices, stream music, adjust lighting, thermostats and more, and even offers hands-free communication (via both call and text) with other family members. It’s a great device for busy families to use in the kitchen, living room or other central areas within the home.
A user-friendly scannerPerhaps the best way for the whole family to stay organized is to go completely paperless. Digitizing your receipts, invoices, tax forms, medical and school records, bills, report cards, children’s artwork and other items will make life much more simple - and much less cluttered. Your family can also preserve photos, award certificates and other cherished memorabilia by scanning the original to produce a digital version safe from wear and tear. The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 scans and stores files directly to a preferred cloud service and features business card, receipt and document management apps. For on-the-go scanning needs, or for small spaces like a craft corner or your teen’s desk, the ScanSnap iX100 is another user-friendly option with impressive capabilities and a compact design.
A document shredderWhile it may not be the most exciting gadget, an efficient shredder is a vital one for any home. Instead of carting sensitive documents to the office to be shredded, you’ll be able to dispose of them in the comfort of your home, knowing your personal information is safe. Consider a powerful version that can handle a variety of materials including credit cards, such as the Bonsaii EverShred.
Wearable activity trackers are excellent tools to help your whole family stay healthy and active, with easy-to-use
models offered for kids, parents and even grandparents. Most models monitor steps, sleep quality and trends, and even your heart rate. Companies such as Fitbit and Garmin offer popular fitness trackers for adults and also sell a few models designed specifically for children. With the available option to sync a group of devices on a secure family account, you can easily monitor your children’s activity levels and ensure everyone is getting enough sleep. For families with a competitive streak, you can create fitness goals together and see who can achieve the most steps each month.
A robotic vacuum
Robotic vacuums were once considered a luxury item and early models were packed with frustrating glitches. Today, the market offers a variety of effective models at multiple price points to suit your family’s budget. Most include apps allowing you to control the cleaning schedule when away from home and many new models are even compatible with Alexa-enabled assistants to offer hands-free voice control. Depending on the level of clutter and how many pets are in your household, robotic vacuums can be a great way to keep the house clean - reducing (if not eliminating) the time and effort needed to manually vacuum.
Which tech tools are essential to help your family’s routine run smoothly? Are there other gadgets or apps you swear by?