On February 4, Wright1 Consulting hosted a presentation titled “Current Trends and Innovations in Kid Tech and What You Need to Know.” The keynote speaker was Jinny Gudmundsen, Kid-Tech Columnist at USA Today, editor of TechWithKids.com, executive editor of games at Common Sense Media, and author of iPad Apps for Kids for Dummies. This was the 2nd in Wright1’s 3-part series: Children, Education, and Technology: What Every Parent Needs to Know.
In this exciting presentation, Ms. Gudmundsen examined how technology is rapidly changing the way children play and learn. She unpacked the following areas in the kid-tech space and play:
- Mobile play is growing by leaps and bounds.
- Children’s expectations from play are changing. They want to be active users, blurring the lines between real and virtual play.
- New risks develop as children continue to be drawn to technology.
Mobile Play Unpacked
Mobile technology continues to be a rapidly growing area. In fact, the use of mobile devices for gaming by children increased from 38% in 2011 to 64% in 2013 as children’s access to mobile media devices dramatically increased. In families with children under age eight, ownership of tablet devices such as iPads has increased from 8% of all families in 2011, to 40% in 2013. In the two to fourteen age bracket, the percentage of children with access to a smart phone or tablet at home has increased from 52% in 2011 to 75% in 2013. Quite a jump in only two years!
During this time, the lines between home use and classroom use have blurred. These devices bring an element of fun and familiarity to learning, creating a new space called “Edu-tainment” games: those that are entertaining and educational.
Children as Active Users Blurring the Lines of Real and Virtual Play
Ms. Gudmundsen shared with us that children want to create, direct, and contribute to their play and learning. This is the same theme that Ms. Loble shared with us during her November 12, 2013 presentation, explaining how education is changing to meet the needs of the millennial generation. In fact, we are seeing a real trend, where children are expecting to interact with each other, their teachers, their games, and the world around them using technology as the means for that interaction.
It is not enough to just watch something; games today are now putting children in the driver seat to create animation, create art work (3D printing), direct the path of story book characters through question and answers, play with characters online and then print out the “templates” to create those same charters offline. Tech-toys are venturing into a new space for children to safely interact with their e-toys in various types of media.
Risks with Millennials’ Passion for Tech
The millennials are drawn to technology as new cool and unchartered territory to be explored. This is accelerating the transformation occurring in play and creating new areas of play. In fact, children are fearless to explore and master games, apps, and tech, and then show their parents how it works.
This creates new risks to children as their parents are being removed from the “play areas” children are exploring online and via tech. Ms. Gudmundsen explored some ways parents can be involved in the new play space. However, it really has become more important for parents to understand the changing space of play and HOW to keep their children safe on it.
Wrapping It Up
So far we have explored how education has changed to fit the needs of the millennials and how play has changed. We have seen that these changes introduce new questions, such as are children as creative as before, are they able to stay focused, and are there new threats in their new play areas. However, we need to really weigh the cons and pros accurately. There are always dangers but are we, as parents, equipped to help our children navigate the waters to stay safe.
In the next blog, we will continue our deep dive into kid-tech innovative game benefits and some ways parents can bring balance into e-toy play space.
This presentation was 2nd in a 3-part series sponsored by Wright1 Consulting. The third and final presentation is titled “What the Tech? Current Issues in Online Exploitation & CyberCrime.” Keynote speaker Tracy Webb will unpack how parents can keep children safe on tech. Tracy is the Senior Trial Attorney for the Cyber Crime & Child Abuse Prosecution Division, Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. She is also a critical member of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. Click here to sign-up for the May 20 event!
- A Common Sense Media Research Study; October 28, 2013; taken from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/zero-to-eight-childrens-media-use-in-america-2013/key-finding-1%3A-young-kids%27-mobile-access-dramatically-higher
- Gudmundsen, Jinny. “Innovations in Kid-Tech… How to Use Them Optimally.” In person presentation on February 4, 2014.
- Loble, Melissa. “Higher Education Technology Innovations: How to Prepare as a Parent.” In person presentation on Nov 12, 2013.
- NPD “Kids and Gaming 2013”; https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/kids-are-gaming-on-mobile-devices-almost-as-much-as-they-are-on-consoles-and-computers/