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10 Southern Startups Helping Parents Make This the Best Summer Yet

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It’s officially summer, and while kids rejoice to the raucous chants of Alice Cooper, parents are feeling the heat as they balance normal adult life with three months’ worth of unoccupied youngsters. Thanks to some innovative Southerners, though, there is hope! These 10 startups have new and easy ways to keep your kids entertained, educated, and safe until the blessed back to school season rolls around this August.

  1. Skip going to the toy store AND the craft store this summer. Austin-based PopUp Play has a new way for kids to flex their creative muscles. The startup launched an app that enables children ages 3-9 to design their own personalized playscape. Once finished, PopUp Play manufactures and delivers a kid-sized version of the structure for your little one to actually play with.
  2. Do your kids want to go to camp (or are you ready to send them to one)? DC-based CampEasy offers a free comprehensive search and scheduling tool for over 60K camps across the US. The platform provides unbiased camp ratings and reviews so your family can choose the one that best suits your camper. Kumba-yeah.
  3. Nine months out of the year, kids’ online activity is at least somewhat protected by school Internet restrictions. But with summertime freedom, parents need a way to know their kids are staying safe online. Savannah-based Bark is a monthly subscription software that uses machine learning to alert parents and children to potentially dangerous activity as well as specific recommendations to avoid cyberbullying and online predators.
  4. Similarly, Tampa-based MamaBear provides parents with information about their children’s online and physical activities while helping kids prove accountability and independence. The “ultimate parenting app” integrates family messaging and notifications, social media monitoring, location sharing, and speed monitoring all in one place. Chaperone achievement: Unlocked.
  5. If your kids fill their summer with art classes, camps, or at-home craft projects, you should check out Asheville-based Plum Print. They send you a prepaid shipping box, you drop in your kids’ creations, and Plum Print turns them into cloud-based digital archives.
  6. Heading to the pool or beach this summer? Raleigh-based SEALInnovation has a solution to keep your kids safe in the water. The SEAL SwimSafe is a wearable swim- monitoring device that can detect a swimmer in distress. It sends real-time alerts to parents, caregivers, and lifeguards to quickly prevent drowning.
  7. Wish your kids’ screen time showed more diversity? Greensboro-based RainbowMe the first entertainment platform for Latino, Indian, Asian, and African-American kids ages 2-12. The network will be the first to feature kids of color in original and syndicated video content, games, activities, books, and shopping.
  8. Imagine this nightmare: your kids aren’t at camp, you’re not going on vacation, and you have absolutely nothing planned to keep the family entertained. Now wake up and check out DC-based The Dilly. The free text-message service sends you daily recommendations of events and activities, handpicked by local parents. Text me, maybe?
  9. If your youngins are spending time at a childcare center this summer, you should know about Atlanta-based MomBrilliance. The free app lets parents receive updates and photos of their kids while they’re away. The startup also has software that helps childcare centers improve communication with parents and simplify operational matters like daily reports.
  10. Whether your child’s school assigned a summer reading program or you’re just trying to unleash your kid’s inner bookworm, DC-based Zoobean has a solution to better facilitate both. Their web app, called Beanstack, provides book recommendations matched to your kid’s interests as well as tools to log reading achievements and earn rewards. Cue Reading Rainbow theme-song.

There you have it. We hope these Southern innovations help you stay sane this summer (and we promise not to judge you if your tech-savvy kiddos have to help you use them). As always, if you know of anyone we left off this list, let us know in the comments!