When you were younger, it was easier to shut your parents out. You didn’t have technology tracking your every movement. Your father wasn’t 100% sure where you were if you didn’t tell him. He also had less access to your friends, which meant that he had less opportunity to embarrass you. If you didn’t want your dad to embarrass you with his choice of clothing, his dad jokes, his mustache, or his social-life-ruining stories about that one time you peed your pants on the monorail at Disneyland, you would just slam the car door and run into school.
But now that your dad’s increasingly connected on social media, the game has completely changed. It all started when you bought him an iPod for this birthday a few years ago. You dragged him into the land of the tech-savvy. So, the now-constant stream of text messages (signed “Love, Dad”—every single one of them) and the all-caps posts on your Facebook wall are all your fault, really.
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1. Canon PowerShot 320 ($250): Now that your father has full access to your internet life, that means that he essentially has access to your entire Rolodex. (No one has a Rolodex anymore, but it’s still a fun reference to make, right?) You’re in a meeting, and you casually glance at your email. You see a notification from Facebook that your father has posted a photo of you on Facebook. Then you see that 15 people have commented on it. You desperately try to pull up the picture he posted of you, but it won’t load. Your mind explodes. What photo did he post? The one of you in full-on puberty chub, wearing a green velvet dress and braces? The one of you crying while standing next to Captain Hook? Oh God, not the naked bathtub pictures. Anything but those.
Here’s the scary part: he has access to albums full of evidence that you weren’t always the cool, cosmopolitan media professional that you have desperately tried to become in the years since you graduated college. He can deploy these horrifying photos to your entire social media network at any time. Unless, of course, you block him, which probably isn’t an option if you still want a place at the Thanksgiving table.
In an effort to get him to focus on posting NEW photos rather than old ones, pick up this new Canon PowerShot, which has WiFi capabilities, allowing him to take a photo of his new sailboat and post it to Facebook immediately. That’s the type of parental sharing you can get behind.
2. Mophie Juice Pack ($80): Back when your father had a regular old cell phone (a flip phone, perhaps), you could never reach him. You’d finally get ahold of him after trying for hours, and when you asked where his cell phone was, he’d say, “Oh, it was out in the car.” Then you’d scream things like, “WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING A CELL PHONE IF YOU NEVER HAVE IT WITH YOU?!” Since he got a smart phone, though, it’s a completely different ball game. He has his phone with him constantly. He texts you “good morning” every morning, and “good night” every night. So whether he’s just texting you and your siblings constantly, emailing his friends, checking sports scores, or playing Angry Birds all day, he’s draining his battery constantly. That’s why he’ll surely appreciate a gadget that will provide back-up battery power for his newly-beloved phone.
3. Whooz ($12.95, set of 4): Now that your father has a cadre of gadgets—an iPhone, a MacBook, an iPad—he also has one million cords to contend with. Pair that with all of the cords from your mother’s devices, and perhaps the cords of your younger siblings, and you’ve got a giant digital mess. That’s why the man who is borderline obsessive-compulsive about organization will love Whooz—a set of vinyl stickers made specifically to help gadget-obsessives keep their cords in order. Dad can personalize his different chargers with different Whooz characters, or if he’s more utilitarian, he can select a multi-colored solid pack instead.
4. Turtle Shell Boombox ($150, Outdoor Technology): When you were younger, your dad had an old boombox in the garage that would blare classic rock while he was laying bark in the flower beds or mowing the lawn. That old boombox, dusty, battered, and equipped only with a cassette player and an AM/FM radio function is still what your dad uses when he wants to hear tunes while he’s out in the back yard. On one hand, you have to admire the craftsmanship of that boombox. How is it still holding up after 20 years in the garage? On the other hand, it’s time to put that thing out to pasture. It’s so old it completely missed CD technology altogether. The Turtle Shell Boombox is beyond a worthy replacement, like replacing a 1970 Gremlin with a 2013 Lexus. It’s compact, waterproof, shockproof, has incredible sound, and connects via Bluetooth to a plethora of wireless devices, which means instead of playing that old James Taylor cassette tape over and over again, your father can access his entire iTunes library. It also has a built-in, rechargeable battery that lasts up to 9 hours, which means your dad can carry this baby to the park, to his office, or anywhere else his classic-rock heart desires.
5. Otis James Dapper iPhone Sleeve ($75, Griffin Technology): When it comes to iPhone cases, there are two types of Dad opinions: 1. “I need the biggest, hardest, most obnoxious case in the word;” or, 2. “I don’t need a case; I am a responsible man who never drops anything.” As usual, both Dad opinions are w-r-o-n-g. Regarding #1, there are cases that are so bulky and protective that they completely negate the sleekness of the iPhone. And really, your dad works at an office, not an old steel mill. He doesn’t need that level of protection for his phone. As for #2, everyone who carries around a $600 device in their pocket needs to have a case on it. It’s just common sense. Speaking of common sense, the Otis James Dapper iPhone Sleeve might be the perfect medium. It’s protective and soft, while its plaid pattern smacks of “masculine hunting lodge.” It’s also not a full-on case, so the proponents of Dad opinion #2 will be happy.