Parenting was never easy, and in the digital age it is becoming more complex. As parents of two pre-teenage boys, my wife and I do not allow devices at meals and restrict screen time, showing more leniency with eBooks.
Family researchers have different takes on the effects of technology – especially screen time – on kids. A 2018 study in the journal Preventive Medicine found young people who spend seven hours or more a day on screens are more than twice as likely to have depression or anxiety than those who use screens for an hour a day. But a 2017 study in Child Development found “little or no support for harmful links between digital screen use and young children’s psychological well-being.” In any case, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents and caretakers to limit screen time for kids between the ages of two and five, and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® supports limits on kids’ screen use as well.
Technology is now commonly used for learning, too. According to a recent CTA study, four-in-five educators and 86% of parents say technology is becoming a key part of classroom education. While experts continue to debate the effects of screen time and digital exposure, tech companies are increasingly thoughtful about the products they create for kids. Harnessing artificial intelligence, they’re finding new ways to advance children’s education, health and safety. Here are seven new children’s products worth exploring:
1. The AireSone Junior, a new wearable device for kids ages three and older, uses breakthrough technology to monitor their heart rate, breathing and sleep quality to alert parents if something is amiss – making it especially valuable for kids with asthma or respiratory issues.
2. TechDen combines an app to manage screen time with a physical home and charging station. The Den securely locks away – and charges – kids’ devices. Parents can create schedules to remotely lock and unlock each door. And they can get alerts about device removal and time use.
3. Coding Critters by Learning Resources bring early STEM concepts to preschool learning through 100% screen-free coding. For ages four and up, these puppies come with a playset and storybook. Kids learn to code activities like hide and seek, fetching a ball or playing on the slide.
4. The new Veta Smart Case & App for EpiPens or other epinephrine auto-injectors allows parents to monitor the proximity of the device to their child. The case also monitors temperature and expiration dates and alerts parents when the device has been removed from the case.
5. The Oral-B Genius X toothbrush, designed by dental professionals and featured at CES 2019, helps kids (and adults) develop good brushing habits. The toothbrush has a built-in timer and alerts a child who’s brushing too hard. Parents can track their kids’ brushing with a related app.
6. With Specdrums, kids put on a thumb ring, connect to an app and tap on anything – like a table or the Specdrums playing pad – to create and mix sounds and beats. It also works with other music-making apps like GarageBand. It’s a portable and fun way for kids to discover music.
7. The clip-on Lynq is an advanced long-range tracker that doesn’t require cell service or Wi-Fi. When parents know they’ll be out in a crowd, they can clip one unit on their child and one on themselves. If the child gets lost within a 3-mile radius, the Lynq will provide directions to the other unit (or units). An alert system also vibrates and rings the instant someone leaves the designated safe zone.
Technology is transforming the way we approach our kids’ health, learning and safety. With new developments in 5G, AI, robotics and machine learning, children’s tech isn’t something to fear – in some cases, it can literally be life-saving.