Monica Vila is co-founder and Chief Technology Mom of TheOnlineMom.com, a website and organization devoted to promoting a healthy understanding and appreciation for the positive role technology can play in our lives. Monica is passionate about creating tech-savvy communities—empowering families to make good decisions about their use of technology.
I have mixed feelings when I hear the term “soccer mom.” There’s a part of me that thinks of the classic American dream—a happy suburban mom looking after her kids, as dad works hard to maintain a comfortable middle class lifestyle.
But another part of me resents the term. Like “housewife” and “SAHM” (stay at home mom), soccer mom can sound condescending, implying that the difficult and often exhausting job of full-time parenting consists solely of driving around a minivan full of spoiled and overscheduled kids.
Of course, I worry about the soccer mom label because I am one. Like millions of other women—and more than a few men—I spend my day getting the kids ready for school, dropping them off, tending to work or home issues, picking the kids up again, and then ferrying them to whatever after-school activities happen to be on that day’s calendar.
But a lot has changed for soccer moms in the last 15 years and perhaps the biggest change of all has been the arrival of the smartphone. No longer do moms spend hours pulling together an impossibly complicated car-pooling schedule or trading rides this week for favors the next. Everything happens in a flurry of IMs and text messages; a complex electronic web of communication that is somehow far more effective despite—or maybe because of—the absence of conversation.
According to a report released earlier this year by pregnancy and parenting website Baby Center, smartphone ownership among moms has increased by 64% over the last two years. How much do moms love their smartphones? So much so that 51% admit to being “addicted,” constantly checking their phones during the day and even sleeping with them next to their beds.
You can also forget about the stereotype of mom being helpless when it comes to handling electronics. Over two-thirds of moms (68%) know how to use most of the features on their smartphones and three-quarters (75%) troubleshoot their phones without any assistance. Smartphones are helping moms become the ultimate multi-taskers, allowing them to manage a lot more than just the family schedule.
Check the sidelines at any weekend soccer game and half of the moms will have their heads buried in their smartphones, only occasionally looking up to follow the action on the field. Checking up on the family, answering emails, scheduling meetings, finalizing dinner plans; it all happens in a flurry of taps and swipes—a mobile lifestyle that is suddenly the model of efficiency.
Then there are apps. If you were to guess at the most common apps on moms’ smartphones, you could be forgiven for thinking of social networking apps like Facebook and Twitter, or games like Angry Birds and Doodle Jump. (I confess to having all four of these apps on my smartphone!) But more and more, the focus is now on apps that help a mom stay organized and get through her busy day.
There are productivity apps, such as Evernote, Cozi Family Organizer and 2Do. There are GPS tracking apps to keep an eye on the kids; banking apps to stay on top of the family finances; shopping apps to save money and find exactly what you’re looking for; and news and weather apps to stay up-to-date and informed. And yes, there are dozens of apps to keep the kids entertained, whether you are standing in line at the check-out or on your way to grandma’s house.
All this adds up to a more efficient and connected lifestyle—a mom who has all the resources and information she needs to keep her family safe, engaged, and productive.
So don’t call me a soccer mom. These days I’m a Smartphone Mom… and that’s a label I’m quite happy to live with.
Do you consider yourself a Smartphone Mom? Let us know with your comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.