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It’s clear that technology has permeated all facets of life – unprecedented database systems in companies, online dating and social media as new platforms of human interaction, phone applications and computer software programs that bridge geographical divides. More recently, the advancement has entered less frequently chartered territory: family life. ParentPlan is a secure, cloud-based website developed to help separated parents with correspondence regarding their children’s lives. Essentially it is a communication tool specifically tailored for a key concern after marital breakdowns: ensuring that the children suffer from as little collateral damage as possible.

Given that the purpose is to enable parents to stay updated with their children’s lives as they do not see one another on a daily basis, it appears that ParentPlan caters to former spouses with younger kids.  Older children may of course be able to communicate with the non-resident parent directly. Members have the option to upload diary events and activities to the calendar, store contact details, display media files and pertinent documents as well as post key reminders to the online service’s feature pinboard. All this valuable information can then be shared with certain adults and guardians in a child’s life – carers, family members, teachers and tutors where relevant. The benefits are obvious.

ParentPlan is suitable for the modern-day divorcee in that it understands the hectic schedules of mothers and fathers – especially those that no longer live under the same roof. It is likewise suitable for the modern-day child whose agenda ranges from violin lessons to weekly playdates to supervised meals – all of which need uniforms, subscription monies, pick-ups and drop-offs. Next, its efficiency lies primarily in its instantaneousness. Another obvious advantage is the accessibility of the website from a parent’s laptop or phone, at home or at work, with the same exact convenience as regularly checking e-mails – but even better since the mechanism is separately compartmentalised. The management of urgent situations is made easier by highlighting deadlines and submitting medical appointment details.

Critics of excessive internet use and reliance on technological breakthroughs characteristically point out how online media has become destructive not only to face-to-face human interrelations but also to the personal development of an individual at the physical, emotional and mental level. They claim it is obstructive to truly experiencing “the real world.” But ParentPlan officially proves this notion wrong. As an invention that effectively facilitates the preservation of a child’s well-being, the maintenance of divorced parents’ relationships with their offspring, and the continuation of a civil, amicable connection between ex-spouses who want to be supportive and present parents, it exemplifies that online leverage is not a threat to our moral progression as a race. In fact its premise is one of selflessness – putting the children first amid conflict and crisis.

But what are the downsides?  It sounds like there might not even be any.  Well, could parents fall into the trap of communicating solely by ParentPlan and end up missing out on the civil, amicable conversations they could be having.  Yes: it may be that ParentPlan works so well that a child never sees their separated parents actually communicate with one another.  A former spouse’s place in the family is replaced with an appointment to pick up or drop off a child, a request for a permission slip or a reminder to pack a cricket bat or dance shoes.  And what if something goes wrong – the website goes down, a parent doesn’t have access to Wi-Fi? It is key that ParentPlan does not replace human to human interaction unless it absolutely has to.

Overall though, we feel ParentPlan is a positive thing, for couples who live together as well as those who have separated.  Anything to help make family life easier has to be a good thing.

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