In our last blog, we looked at how technology is rapidly changing the way children play and learn. We examined some of the areas that are changing such as how the lines between virtual and real play are blurring, children taking a more active role in their play, and some new risks this introduces. Today we will deep dive into kid-tech innovative game benefits and some ways parents can bring balance into e-toy play space.
Not Just Fun and Games
Tech toys strive to take learning to a higher level by diving into a space called “edu-tainment;” educational and entertainment. We are seeing a growing trend of twenty-first century technology doing more than just keep a child occupied. Many of the toys and games teach emotions, creativity, collaboration, and reasoning. These take games from being just entertaining to being able to teach, educate, and development life skills.
For example, with Cognitive Kid products (www.anselandclair.com), children of a variety of skill levels can have fun tackling subjects like history, geography, and environmental issues. The company’s dual mission is “to encourage children to think, ask questions, make connections, synthesize information and develop higher order learning skills,” as well as “to instill a love for learning that will carry on from a child’s early years throughout their adulthood.”
A Surprising Benefit of Tech Play
Did you know that real world jobs are often in search of young adults who have an expertise in gaming. It is not every game, but specific games such as StarCraft. These games are all about gathering information, thinking quickly on your feet, making decisions, working with others, and assessing the big picture. Companies are starting to realize that the skill sets used by new “potential employees” while playing interactive “knowledge” games relate nicely to jobs that require the same skill sets of data gathering, analysis, trial and error, and collaboration. We have also seen a growing number of new job openings and educational majors being offered all around the tech-toy industry. Take for example, Full Sail University. They offer these academic programs: Game Art, Game Design, Computer Animation and Mobile Gaming. What looks like just having fun is actually teaching them important skills and helping them find a potential career path!
The Future’s So Bright…
If you think you have seen all there is in kid tech, then think again! The technology and advances are growing rapidly in order to keep up with the millennials. Some exciting toys that are on the horizon are make-it-yourself 3D printing, tactile touchscreens, and a large 27” table touchscreen PC.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
Children’s play is very different than those of their parents and grandparents. The evolution of kid tech has been fueled in many ways by the growth of technology in general. Along with its many benefits, technology can also bring challenges.
Children are often tempted to spend too much time playing, and tech toys are no exception. Ms. Gudmundsen recommends that parents put their children on a “media diet” by limiting the amount of time spent in front of the computer or device. She is not alone in this view. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a “media diet” of 1 to 2 hours a day. Ms. Gudmundsen states that it is all about balance and communication where parents should sit down and talk with their children about their technology use. She recommends the Media Time Family Pledge as a great tool to help parents start that conversation.
With the Good Comes the Bad…
With the good tech, there is also bad tech. There are apps out there where children can take a photo of someone and then proceed to beat them up via the app. While there are some advocates of this game, stating it is a good outlet for childhood aggression, it serves as an example that parents must be a part of the game selection process with their children.
Parents should also research toys and games that their children are interested in, and talk to other parents about their experiences. The resources at www.commonsensemedia.org and www.techwithkids.com are available to help parents decide what products and practices are appropriate and beneficial for their children.
Wrapping It Up
Technology is changing the way the millennial generation learns, plays, and interacts. This change is not necessarily all bad. As children and play are changing, our involvement needs to change as well. Wright1 is committed to supporting our community by providing a venue to help parents understand what is changing and tips from experts on how to navigate the “new era” of technology.
If you would like to hear Jinny for yourself, we will be publishing the full length presentation in a bit. So check back in for it.
You Are Invited
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!
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); Media Time Family Pledge; March 1, 2014; taken from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Media-Time-Family-Pledge.aspx
- 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
- Full Sail University; March 1, 2014; taken from www.fullsail.edu
- Gudmundsen, Jinny. “Innovations in Kid-Tech… How to Use Them Optimally.” In person presentation on February 4, 2014.
- Gudmundsen, Jinny. “USAToday.com column – Tech Section;” March 1, 2014; taken from http://www.usatoday.com/topic/81052170-51ed-48ce-86d7-6b5dba025a98/jinny-gudmundsen/
- Tech With Kids; March 1, 2014; taken from www.techwithkids.com