Hello, all. Now that we are into the second month of the year, I’m hoping your resolution of practicing digital safety is still going strong.
As a mother of two, I’m constantly thinking about how I can keep up with my kids on social media and help them become responsible digital citizens. It’s really important for parents, educators, and anyone concerned with youth development to understand how technology impacts and affects children. What better way to do this than to understand it themselves.
One of the easiest ways to understand how gadgets and technology might impact the mind of our young ones is to follow latest trends. I don’t know if you followed the news coming out of CES 2016 (Consumer Electronics Show) but if you did, you would have discovered that 2016 is going to be another exciting year in the tech front. There is so much buzz about the Internet of Things and the fact that virtual reality is set to make inroads in our homes (as if it hasn’t already)! Soon we will be using sci-fi headphones, smart watches, connected cars and appliances like smart fridges too.
Just how much can you learn from one event, you ask? Well, CES is the consumer technology world’s biggest event where every virtually all major brands showcase their vision. This year, CES was abuzz with news of virtual reality focused devices. New Yorker editor Nicholas Thompson nailed the whole virtual reality craze succinctly by saying, “Last year was the year that tech editors used it, this is the year that my sisters used it and next year will be the year that my mother uses it.”
This means that technologies like virtual reality are here to stay and expand and touch all aspects of our lives. As parents, we need to understand this craze, accommodate it into our lives and help our children make the right choices.
Keeping pace with technological developments is not only interesting but also very educational. We are stretching our boundaries of possibility beyond all known limits! Children are already a part of it, by virtue of being digital natives. We’ve got to jump on the bandwagon too. Also, we will be able to offer informed advice to our family members when they have doubts regarding which phone to buy or argue about the best gaming device or smart wearable. It helps to be aware of the latest security products, new apps, and threats that lurk in the virtual horizon.
So be on the look-out for these in 2016:
- Consumer electronics shows: There are so many global shows around the year where consumer electronics giants unveil their new products and ideas. You can get first-hand information on products, future launches, new ideas and beta apps and programs. CES 2016 is over but you can get a quick overview here. Look out for the upcoming China Consumer Electronics Show 2016, IFA Berlin, Global Sources Electronics Show, LEX, Mobile World Congress to name a few.
- Radical new device launches: A whole array of smartphones are ready for launch, including iPhone7. And let’s not forget virtual wearable headsets like Samsung Gear VR Hands-on, Zeiss VR One headset.
- Mind-blowing games on the horizon: If you and your child dig the gaming scene, then you will love what’s on the horizon for 2016. Starting with the XBOX game Far Cry Primal (note: No modern firearms involved in this one), there’s the huge PS exclusive No Man’s Cry; the next installment of Gears of War, to Nintendo 3DS games like Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam
- New social media apps in the fray: Peach from iOS and Wanelo may become big hits with the young ladies, while chat sites KiK and the Snapchat rival Shots are likely to catch the interest of teens. Experts are also predicting rise in video-chatting apps like Blab and Slack and video-sharing sites like Periscope. Smart parents will find out more about these and sign up so they can guide their kids when the time comes
- Tech toys that are slated to become more popular: WiFi-enabled talking toys like Hello Barbie and the wildly popular Hello Kitty are growing in popularity. Smart wearables and camera-fitted drones are also becoming popular as are hand-held gaming devices like Wii from Nintendo
In addition to all of the above, here’s a quick refresher on security tips:
- Secure all devices using reputed comprehensive security tools
- Activate parental controls on all devices
- Change default passwords and create unique passwords for social media and gaming sites
- Turn off Bluetooth and location-based services when not in use
- Do not allow websites to save your credit card information
- Maximize privacy on social media sites and befriend your children when they sign up
- Read reviews of games before allowing your child to play. You may want to check for violence, language and mature content
- Think. Connect. These watchwords should be memorized by parents
- Stop — Take a moment to understand and spot potential risks before using the Internet
- Think — Pause to consider how your online actions may affect your safety
- Connect — Once you have taken these steps to safeguard yourself and your family, enjoy the Internet with confidence
The more you know, the more caught up you are in the excitement and enthusiasm of it! It’s such a dynamic world – don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of it, part of this age and part of your child’s world.
Just watch your child’s face when the ad for a new launch is splashed across the newspaper and you coolly start saying, “Oh! So XYZ is finally coming out with this, eh? I love the camera and enhanced RAM but wonder at the live streaming ability and the battery power.”
You will love the expressions of surprise, respect and pride that light up his face.
Here’s looking forward to a safe and gadget filled 2016!