The IOT for Kids
HOW TECHNOLOGY AFFECTS OUR CHILDREN
Understanding how the Internet of Things is going to change childhood is hard to imagine. The IoT (Internet of Things) describes the way objects can “talk” to each other via technology. Your smart watch talks to your phone. Your apps can talk to your new smart thermostat. Widespread fear about technology ruining childhood is in large part thanks to sensationalism. New technologies are often painted as either a soul-consuming monster or the flawless face of advanced society. Somehow, people often forget the role of parenting.
THE BEAUTIFUL POSITIVES OF CONNECTED CHILDREN
THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE TRUTH ABOUT CONNECTIVITY
A study printed in the October 2014 issue of Computers in Human Behavior also shows that interacting with technology makes it harder to interpret emotion. By taking two groups of children and allowing one to consume large amounts of media while constricting the other, researchers found a very strong correlation. Those who consumed less media could read facial and physical expressions more easily. However, another study from professor Doris Bergen in the Miami University Department of Educational Psychology may accidentally shed some light on this entire conversation.
Some see technology as signs that parents and educators are becoming lazy. Convince your kid to brush their teeth with a game app. Consult your phone to see when you need to talk to kid. Perhaps sensors could be used to track the eyes of a student to get a better idea of their ability. What if, as one major news outlet suggests, these numbers were used to track and grade engagement levels in school. These numbers would help grade students on effort and send the better performers to university. Don’t worry, that model is far too expensive for any school in the near future to even consider. Technology in the classroom is not hyper-connected, and will not be for many, many years. The IoT has not brought doomsday to education and childhood, quite yet.
THE GREY MATTER
One of the biggest fears parents (and bystanders) seem to have about children and the IoT is not the technology itself. Rather, they fear how adults will use it. Given how little hard evidence exists, and that new technology is popping up every day, the best option may be to step back. Many who argue that connected technology is good also follow the “interaction not isolation” mantra. The world doesn’t need MIT studies to tell it that learning from experience and interaction can be better than through video and games. There is no “all-in” or “out” with technology and children.
One vital step forward has been the removal of the mouse. Removing the mouse and big, klunky keyboards has lifted the wall between user and technology. The “swipe” has been the focus of many psychology essays. A four-year old can now interact with a computer in a highly direct manner. This could lead to removing mental barriers between the self and technology, itself, allowing kids to grow up and completely change our ideas about technology.
Growing up in a connected world also means data. The topic of protecting children’s’ data in a connected world is a paper all its own. Data generation and analysis, however, does mean greater effectivity and opportunity. Playthings, education, health. These all benefit from the circular nature of data. The big looming question is the time and manner in which children interact with technology. Research has shown the children only begin to understand the symbol nature of a screen at about three years of age. That may be the only golden number when it comes to the Internet of Things and your child.
First published by Dataconomy.com