-- Schools are back in session, and parents are in frenzy of planning and adjustment after the long summer. Luckily, there are apps for that.
ClassDojo: Classroom management software and apps are a growing trend. The most popular is one called ClassDojo. It’s used in more than half of the schools in America and it tracks good behavior and areas that need work. Those "positive points" are tallied daily for kids and teachers to see. Parents are invited by the teacher to download the ClassDojo app and monitor their child’s performance. Through this secure app, photos and information can be shared with parents (accounts set up and verified by the teacher are inaccessible to those not on the service). Some privacy concerns have been raised about tracking of child behavior, but classrooms are set up only with the child's first name and no other identifiable information. Profiles only exist for 365 days then are erased so they don’t travel with a child from grade to grade.
Cozi: This free-app serves as a shared family portal to help everyone keep track of schedules, contribute to shopping lists and share fun moments while on the go. An agenda for the upcoming week can be sent to family members, making sure no one misses an important recital or their turn for carpool duty. Cozi is available free for Android and iOS users with the option for in-app purchases.
Homework: Not sure how to help your second grader with his or her math homework? Don't panic! BeALearningHero.org is a new website offering information to help parents feel confident and informed about tackling the most complex homework problems. Parents will find carefully curated content from trusted parent and education organizations including videos, tips, guides and fast facts, developed with parents in mind.
Artkive: There's only so much room on the refrigerator for those works of art the kids bring home. For parents who can't bring themselves to throw away their children's masterpieces but might not have the extra space to keep everything around, Artkive lets them create a digital catalog of every picture, along with information such as the date and the child's age. Parents then have the option of ordering a book of their child's art. Artkive is free for Android users but the app costs $4.99 for people using iOS devices.
Dinnertime: To avoid the technology tug-of-war (getting devices out of kids’ hands), this app gives parents a remote kill switch for their children’s phones. Install the app on the child’s device, install the control app on the parent’s phone. DinnerTime offers three options: schedule a “dinner time” break--duration 30 minutes to 1.5 hours, “Take a break” which indefinitely freezes the child’s device until the parent device unfreezes it, or you can “Schedule bedtime” from say 9 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. to make the device in inaccessible to the child. When the DinnerTime app is freezing the child’s device, it is in complete lockdown: no phone, no texting, no alarms. A full screen image saying “take a break” or “Dinner time” appears on the child’s phone with no access to settings or app icons. If the child reboots the phone, the DinnerTime blocking screen resumes immediately. The app is only available for Android devices. Click here to learn more about how it works.
OurPact: Like DinnerTime, this free app offers similar parental control functionality for iOs users. Parents can sync your family's iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch to OurPact and manage everyone's device use under one platform. This means kids' apps and internet can be blocked during homework time or dinner time or hourly time limits can be set.
Virtual Companion: This app, Companion, lets you virtually walk your child home from school, even when you’re at work. Companion also allows anyone in your contact group to virtually walk you to your destination. A user fires up the app and selects their destination. Then they choose a companion: friend, parent, or caregiver. The companion accepts the request and then can watch an on-screen map as the user progresses from point A to Point B. If the user starts running, or drops their phone, an alert pops up asking if they are OK. If they don’t respond within a set time, the app alerts the virtual companion. The companion can call the person to see if they are alright. If they can’t reach them the companion app provides location data that can be shared with police if needed.
There are other tracking options, too. Most of the major cell phone carriers have a family tracking option that lets you locate a child and check their whereabouts. Many of these have schedule options intended for after-school routines. Get more information at the following links:
There are also stand-alone apps that track kids and send alerts between parents and the child.
ABC News' Alyssa Newcomb contributed to this report.