These days, it’s not uncommon to see kids engrossed in iPads, video games and phones; sports, dance or any other number of after-school activities all compete with screen time to fill a kid’s day. Add in homework, and kids are scheduled to the max. The urge for the family to unplug and spend time together seems to grow as everyone gets busier, but turning off the screen doesn’t have to mean the learning stops. Here are six fun, family-friendly activities that happen to include some learning on the side.
It’s January 3, and you know what that means: New Year’s Resolutions world-wide are starting to fail. The first day of sticking to your resolution was a cinch. The second day was a bit more painful. By day three, you’re feeling like taking a little break might not be so bad.
If you’re experiencing resolution fatigue, help is on the way. In fact, it’s right at your fingertips. Your smartphone can do so much more than keep you connected to Facebook; it can actually help you stay motivated throughout the year. If you’re veering off the path to New Year’s Resolution success, here are some apps that will keep you on track all the way through 2013 and beyond.
Your resolution: Lose weight
This is certainly a tough resolution to keep, but if you’re determined to make 2013 the year that you finally shed your love handles, you don’t have to go it alone. To make healthy eating a breeze, download Lose It, a free app that aids weight loss by tracking your calorie consumption. After you set a weight loss goal, the app will help you determine just how many calories you should consume on a daily basis. The beauty of Lose It is in the ease with which you can record meals and snacks. The app draws nutrient and calorie information from a huge database of foods that even includes supermarket brands and restaurant dishes. By giving you greater insight into the healthfulness of your diet, Lose It will help you shed pounds faster than Apple fans shed the iPhone 4.
Your resolution: Exercise more
You might hate exercise as much as I do, but you’ll instantly fall in love with Ease into 5K, an app which helps you become the runner you never thought you could be. If you can spare 30–40 minutes three times a week to go for a run, you can learn to run a 5K. The app takes you through an eight-week program of interval training to help you run for gradually longer periods of time. If you can spare just an hour and a half of your week, you’ll be running a 5K in no time.
On the other hand, if you’d prefer to exercise apocalypse style, you’ll enjoy Zombies, Run! Recommended by Zing blogger Amanda, Zombies, Run! is an “audio adventure” which motivates you to run via an audio recording and GPS tracking. It’s like a real life video game, and the only way to avoid getting eaten by virtual zombies is to run – for real. Perfect for the gamer that needs a little help getting off the couch, Zombies, Run! is available for $3.99 in the Apple App Store.
Your resolution: Quit smoking
Highly rated by iPhone users, LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach is a free app that motivates you to quit smoking. It creates a personalized quit plan and helps you set attainable goals. The app provides inspirational photos, motivational tips and progress charts to keep you away from tobacco. Another great part: It connects your stop-smoking efforts with the world of social media so that your friends and family can help cheer you on via Facebook and Twitter.
Your resolution: Pay off debt
Are you getting ready to buy a home in 2013? A good way to prepare for homeownership is to pay down your debt. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Mint.com is a must-have app for your phone. This free app tracks spending, creates budgets, and allows you to set goals for paying off debt. Find out more about Mint.com and other financial apps here.
Your resolution: Get organized
While your iPhone probably won’t clean your closet or sort your laundry, it does have some useful tools for helping you stay organized. Check out Lauren’s favorite grocery shopping list apps for some tools to help you zoom through the supermarket. And if you’re looking for a do-it-all electronic calendar, check out Fantastical, an app that Business Insider calls the “best calendar app for your iPhone.” Priced at $3.99, Fantastical makes entering new events easy and allows you to view your appointments with just a quick glance.
Your resolution: Help others
For the charitable resolution-maker, there’s VolunteerMatch, a free app that helps you locate volunteer opportunities near you. Its comprehensive search tool offers a variety of criteria so you can easily find nearby charitable work that matches your skills and interests.
Your resolution: Learn something new
Learning has never been easier. If you’re interested in foreign languages, check out any app by 24/7 Language Learning. These free apps will teach you all the basics for Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese and more. It’s a great way to learn, and features entertaining games, quizzes and flashcards. If it’s musical prowess you seek to gain, check out Guitar 101 – Learn to Play the Guitar. This freebie compiles the best of YouTube’s instructional videos to help you understand guitar basics.
Smartphones are a wonderful asset. If you’re lucky enough to own one, these apps can help you get the most out of your technology. What apps do you use the most? Let us know in the comments!