Alexandra Lange | Essays

Playground Apps

This morning my mind started mashing up two articles from the Times of the past few days, one on the mommy blogger conference, the other on the success of foursquare and other mobile location applications (the Times seems noticeably obsessed with foursquare). All the articles I have read about the latter convinced me that it would never be of benefit to me, since they stress its after-hours usefulness, and I hardly go out. But I wonder if the young, male inventors haven’t missed a big market: moms. Thinking about my neighborhood, I realize how often I have probably missed a friend at the playground, or could have rendezvoused at Trader Joe’s. The blocks are small in Brooklyn, and everyone takes a different route. The target time would be 3:30, rather than 7:30, or 11:30, but the idea of checking in with friends likely to be in the same 10-block radius seems similar.

I had this idea, and surely others have too, but I am not so sure I want it to take off. I have judgment about the Blackberry moms at the playground, watching their tiny screens and not their tiny tots. Not so much about the potential dangers in the sandbox, but about the divided attention. I think the slight spaciness of the playground is a gift you can give your child. At home you are always trying to make dinner, or pick something up, or fold a load of laundry. Outside you have fewer things to do with your hands, and I think kids notice when you try to inch away mentally. So foursquare for moms—maybe playgroup, momdezvous?—use it to check in, and then put the smartphone away.

Posted in: Media, Technology

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