Industry Trend: Tech for Kids

YouTube Launches Kid-Friendly App, Follows in Footsteps of Vine and Snapchat

This week YouTube launched a mobile app made just for kids.  The app filters content and search phrases to ensure appropriateness for young audiences, and offers parental control features, such as the ability to set time limits for app usage. 

The release comes less than a month after Vine announced their new app, Vine Kids, which features hand-selected videos, shielding children from potentially inappropriate content.  This summer, Snapchat released Snapkidz, a version of their app which allows kids to take and doodle on photos, but not send or receive snaps.

 

CogniToys Announces Kickstarter for Toy with Artificial Intelligence  

Last week a Kickstarter was launched to fund a toy dinosaur driven by the machine learning service, IBM Watson.  The toy, which connects to a cloud computing service via WiFi, is said to provide age-appropriate answers to children’s questions,  and even fine-tunes its responses as it learns about its user through repeated interaction.

 

Kid-Friendly Technologies: Good or Bad for Learning and Exploration?

I have mixed feelings about the future of kid-friendly technologies.  On one hand, if kids are already using smart phones, tablets, and computers, we might as well provide them with content that is engaging, educational, and age-appropriate.  A lot of apps, which already cater to the short attention spans of adults, would likely be fairly easy to adapt for kids (I’m looking at you, Instagram.)

On the other hand, childhood is meant for playing with friends, exploring the outdoors, and learning about the world, and I worry that the magic (and learning) of childhood will be stunted with too much time in front of a screen.  As our world becomes more and more digitally-focused, it will be interesting to see how parents balance the competing demands for children’s attention.