Moms Want Tools, Not Toys

If someone had told me five years ago that I'd soon be able to take my sleeping child's temperature without touching him or wirelessly monitor his weight via my bathroom scale, I would have assumed they were describing Judy Jetson's life, not mine.

But those days are here. And I have my fellow moms to thank for it. Over the past few years, moms have been a powerful catalyst for tech innovation, demanding gadgets and technologies that simplify their lives and empower them to be better parents.

Mom's 2010 Gadget Wish List
1 Laptop
2 Nintendo Wii Fit
3 HDTV
4 Blu-Ray
5 External hard drive/back-up
6 IPhone
7 HD digital camcorder
8 Portable DVD player
9 Garmin/GPS
10 Digital camera

* Plans to buy in the next year

At the recent Mommytech Summit at CES, it was clear that just because technology has become an integral part of mom's daily life doesn't mean she's constantly on the hunt for the latest bleeding-edge gadgets and features. Function rules the day for mom. She wants tools, not toys. She uses her phone to help manage her family's schedule, her webcam to ensure grandma and grandpa don't miss a single milestone, and her laptop to do just about everything, including storing her most prized possessions -- her family photos. According to a recent BabyCenter survey, mom isn't only the primary user of technology in her household, she's often the one to identify the need for new technology in the first place. Here are a few more tidbits from the survey:

5 Truths About the Influence of Technology on the 21st Century Mom

1. From geek chic to utility, tech purchase criteria change after becoming a mom. When a woman becomes a mom, she has to incorporate more than 10 hours of parenting into her already packed schedule. In this new world, utility is a must-have. Over half of moms say that after having a baby, simplicity, multi-functionality and convenience are her biggest priorities when it comes to technology. Color choice and design all fall to the bottom of her list.

2. Mom is integral to the tech purchase decision process. Sixty-seven percent of moms play a key role in purchasing new technology for their family. When it comes to buying a new laptop, 73% of moms say they are the initiating the purchase process and choosing the key features. Not too surprising, given that moms are 20% more likely than dads to use the family laptop.

3. Moms have become tech-fluent to better navigate their new roles. From Dr. Mom to Chief Memory Officer, becoming a mom means taking on new roles. Moms look to technology to make those jobs easier. Moms' top three uses of technology include handling the family schedule, managing family health and wellness, and storing and sharing memories. Seventy-five percent of moms say they're in charge of documenting and sharing family memories, which could explain why an overwhelming 93% own a digital camera and one in three never leave the house without it.

4. Technology convergence gives moms more freedom to roam and interact with family. Now that smartphones and wireless home networks are mainstream, the concept of "home office" is evolving. Moms can now stay connected in and out of the house. Seventy-two percent say that, after having children, they're far more likely to use the laptop in the kitchen or living room so they can stay near the children.

5. Moms are aware of technology's negatives, and they're taking steps to minimize them. As technology becomes more ingrained in their daily lives, moms worry about downsides like less physical activity, lack of face-to-face contact and shorter attention spans. However, moms are taking steps to mitigate these risks by making sure their families enjoy time together uninterrupted by technology (78%), setting limits (75%), using parental controls (41%) and taking away devices (37%).

The 21st Century Mom is armed with technology. She's knowledgeable, discerning, and demanding, and the primary user and decision maker for tech products in the home. The days of women being intimidated by technology are over. Today's moms don't blame themselves when technology doesn't work, they blame the brand. Tech companies who take the time to understand mom and build products that empower her will earn a very powerful fan with a whole lot of friends.

Tags: moms, technology
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5 comments about "Moms Want Tools, Not Toys ".
  1. Holly Hamann from TapInfluence , January 20, 2010 at 12:57 p.m.

    Hi Tina - excellent article. I work with thousands of "mom bloggers" and completely agree with everything you have mentioned. Their demand for technology has everything to do with their constant quest to get more done in less time, and do it better. If there is a way to make meal-planning more efficient and practical - they want to know how. If technology can help them stay connected to their support community (for themselves of their children) - they are all over it. Thanks for the great research and stats!

  2. Sarah Shaw , January 21, 2010 at 1:53 a.m.

    I am in shock at how much we do! We rock and thank god we have so many great tools to help us.

    Sarah - Entrepreneur and mom to 2 yr old identical twin girls

  3. Sara Breuninger from "Deal"icious Mom , January 23, 2010 at 4:20 p.m.

    I am one of those "mom bloggers" and I totally agree with your article. Of the top 10 wish list items I have 4 but I would love to have all 10! Forget about toys - Give me and my family those gadgets :) They will get a lot more use and they have a lot less pieces to step on on the floor!

  4. Jill Seman from Mom Maps , January 23, 2010 at 6:31 p.m.

    Hi Tina - Great article! I can't tell you how many times the iphone has been a lifesaver for me. It gives me immediate access to shopping lists, email, my calendar and a camera. I use the iphone camera now more than my digital one, because I have it with me. It also has a bunch of apps - many of them free - that are lifesavers! Ones for recipes, shopping lists, medical records, exercise and diet and ones that find the best places to go. Moms have to be smart and efficient, and Smartphones help.

  5. Ellen Lebowitz from Ellen Lebowitz Press , June 23, 2010 at 1:26 p.m.

    Hi Tina,

    There's a book written by Dr. Eitan Schwarz that may be the tools moms are looking for to help with the technology available to kids and the entire family.

    Kids, Parents & Technology: An Instruction Guide for Young Families is the name of the book. The related website is: http://mydigitalfamily.com

    I hope this helps everyone.