Family Tech Roundup: Tech and development, celebs ban kids’ Internet, baby marketing, 3D printing, online danger

Family Tech Roundup

Welcome to this week’s roundup of family-related technology news. It feels very much like a ‘for-against’ week. Some stories highlighting some of the negative aspects when tech is badly or excessively used, while others reveal the positive benefits of tech for children’s education and development.

Jump to a story using the link below or just scroll down to read the whole article:

Is tech holding back children?

You don’t have to look too hard to find an article claiming that technology is hurting children’s development.

A school in Georgia suggests children’s familiarity with mobile tech ‘gestures’ and texting is detrimental to their handwriting, which in turn inhibits learning, creativity, and fine motor skills.

The worry is particularly with elementary school-age children (ages 5-10).

Of course, the simple solution is to limit the amount of time children are allowed to use tech gadgets, and to continue to promote and encourage ‘traditional’ learning through both handwriting and drawing, as well as other creative and practical activities.

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McCrory/Lewis kids ‘banned’ from weekday computing

How we love emotive words like ‘banned’. Pair that with a couple of celebrities and you really have a story…

Apparently, actor couple Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis have stopped their two kids from using computers during the week, and at weekends they have a ’10 minute rule’.

You can be sure there will be plenty of comments arguing both for and against this kind of approach — we haven’t read the public dialogue on the original article as it often gets quite bitter and aggressive.

We’re not going to judge a parents’ individual response to bringing up their children.

In general, we think it’s commendable that parents are encouraging children to do things that don’t involve technology, to not automatically reach for Google, and to explore their emotions and feelings free from the clutch of tech.

That said, we wonder at the effect such heavy restrictions will have on a child’s tech development skills. If a child only has 20 minutes use per week of tech, how are they going to learn and thrive in our digital/tech world?

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How Tech Companies Market Products to New Parents

Here’s an interesting article about the way technology companies market products to pregnant and new parents.

We know companies play on various fears and insecurities in order to sell products. Around the time of pregnancy and new birth, parents are often particularly insecure about how they’re doing and what products they should be using to make their lives easier, and improve/assist their parenting skills.

One unfortunate effect of this is that many “parents buy name-brand, expensive products to feel more confident”. You can see what a potentially lucrative market this is.

That said, the companies who do it right can really capitalise on word of mouth marketing, because repeat business is far less common than product evangelism.

Thankfully there are a number of independent web sites which encourage parents to look for the best, not necessarily than the most glossy/branded/expensive, products, based on genuine reviews from users.

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Teaching Kids About 3D Printing

Printing in 3D is set to become an important technology in both industry and consumer markets. i3D Creatives is a 3D design education platform aimed at 8-15 year-olds. Founder John Bokla says, “I believe kids today, with access to current technology and 3D printing are going to be the most creative generation ever! Coming up with amazing new ideas and innovations as they bridge the gap from their imagination to reality.”

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Online Danger survey

A survey by security software company Kaspersky has revealed that over two-thirds of users of its Kaspersky Lab’s Parental Control technologies encountered ‘inappropriate online content’ last year.

60% encountered pornography, while over one-quarter found gambling sites, 20% sites about weaponry, or profanity, or violence, and 10% about alcohol, drugs or tobacco.

Unsurprisingly, Kaspersky is pushing the use of its own parental control software, although to its credit it does also highlight the need for human interaction and monitoring of children’s Internet use by parents.

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