I love this topic because it really knows how to divide people, and I rarely come across someone without an opinion on it.
Should we be building apps specifically aimed at children, and in some cases, even babies?
Having 3 children in my life, ranging from 8 to 1, I see the value in some of the more educational applications, but should there be a place on my device for children's games, and if so, how should we manage the access to these?
It scared me at first how quickly my son old learnt to unlock my partners iPad and launch the Old McDonald farm app, but being a millennial, I have fully embraced the technology and understand that it is the world they will grow up in, so why not let them learn from the start?
We have never used our mobiles or tablets as digital "babysitters" but it is not uncommon to hand over the iPad when we need a couple of minutes quiet time when we need to make a phone call or send an important email, but when I went out for for lunch the other weekend, I saw a table with 3 children, all of which were under 8, with their noses plugged into iPads, plates full of food.
Where should parents draw the line?
Personally, I have never given in to the pressure put on me by my little ones to hand over my phone or tablet in a restaurant, much to the disappointment of other diners no doubt, but that doesn't mean I think it's wrong, but what worries me here is that our children are missing out on the benefits of engaging in conversation, and the parents are acting as enablers to this.
I was extremely fortunate the other month to be able to sit on a round table discussion with an extremely intelligent man, Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, Consumer Psychologist at UCL who had recently carried out some research into the effects that mobile has had on our ability to retain information. The findings weren't great, and it turns out that we are no longer using our recall mechanism as well as we used to due to the fact we are able to call upon our mobile devices to do the thinking for us.
Does this mean that out children will struggle unless "there's an app for that" when they get older? Or will we need to be more responsible for making sure that we are more stringent with our checks what our children are doing when they are using our devices? It just seems a little too easy for them to close the Monkey Maths School Sunshine app and open YouTube where they have access to an unrestricted list of recommended videos.
The next level of this discussion is; what are the intentions are of applications like Vine launching "kid friendly" versions of their applications? Are they planning on pushing advertising directly to our children?
Head of Marketing & Communications for Vine, Caroline Penner describes the app on the company blog "Through adorable animated characters, kids can watch videos that are appropriate for a young audience. Swiping right or left shows a new Vine, and you can tap the screen to hear quirky sounds." But nowhere does it say who is creating the Vines, or who is responsible for moderating them or whether or not they will be selling advertising space, so watch this space.
That said, kids DO love Vines, and they DO love YouTube, but what value are these apps adding to our children's lives as opposed to ours?
I would love to hear your thoughts as it is topic that is going to go on as long as mobile is around.
I'm sure the next point will be what impact wearable devices will have on our children; But that's for another day.
Thanks for reading!
Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.Steve Jobs