There is no question that the future is “The Internet of Things, IoT for Kids. While the concept may seem complex, the basics of IoT are pretty simple. Objects that we interact with everyday (including phones, watches, thermostats, speakers, lightbulbs, etc) are all connected to the internet.
This allows them to communicate with us, with each other, and add in a little machine learning, you’ve got a system of interconnected devices that help make your life simpler.
Homes are getting smarter and the IoT device list is ever increasing, but so is the opportunity as a parent to help your kids learn from and grow with them.
IoT with Kids Is Growing
From being able to view the inside of your fridge with your phone at the grocery store, to monitoring your smoke alarm or toothbrush with your smart watch, the vast inventory of available IoT items is staggering. Practically every device on the planet can be designed with the cloud in mind.
You can track your heart rate, temperature, what food is left in the fridge, your kid’s location, whether you’re brushing your teeth too hard or not hard enough, and just about anything else you could possibly want to know through a connected device. Gartner estimates 8.4 billion IoT devices were used across the world in 2017. That is a 31% growth since 2016. And that number is only going to get bigger. IoT device usage is estimated to climb to 20.4 billion by 2020.
With the slew of connected devices, WiFi is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity. The world is getting smarter, and future generations will have to keep up with it. What’s surprising is that, so far, they are. Have you ever noticed that some toddlers are better at operating smart phones than many of us adults? My daughter knew how to pose for a selfie long before she knew how to say the word “mama”.
What Does This Mean For Our Kids?
Not that we want to imagine our kids’ future careers right off the bat, but it’s pretty cool that so many companies are jumping on board with teaching kids to code. Even devices like Amazon’s Alexa might one day be able to teach you a foreign language. Imagine life before Google, and the ability to go from question to reasonably researched answer within seconds. Now imagine that our children are growing up in a world where information is not only readily available, but accessible no matter your location. (Seriously, I have answered my doorbell from another country.) The Internet was just the beginning, now we have an entire Internet, of things. There are so many devices to help you and your kids stay connected, healthy and safe.
The Internet of Things has even made toys smart. A connected toy means that your child’s experience is dynamic, ever-changing, and will only keep getting better thanks to software updates. This technology is enabling children to construct, play, and even code their own content into toys. Connected toys are getting kids interested in STEM not only by teaching them to understand logic, but enabling them to see their own work come to life in real-time.
Peace of Mind
Smart devices give you the ability to change the thermostat without needing to lift a finger, but they also give parents peace of mind. If you’re a little tech savvy, you can know what your kids are up to at all times. Stalking your child is not effective. However, with the push of a button you can tell if they were at Julie’s house, or Jenny’s house. Parents are able to track their kids’ location, whether it be through the kid’s phone, smart watch, or any other connected device. And the benefits go beyond security.
For today’s time-starved parent, convenience is just as crucial. “We’ve seen an increasing number of parents signing their kids up for classes and camps because they can ‘check in’ through smart devices” said Suzanne Felson, the founder of Reso, a curator of kid’s activities in the Bay Area. After most moms experience how easy location-based technology has made it for them to find a book a new activity for their kids, their typical response is “God, I really needed this years ago” according to Felson.
So many dreams for you and for your children can be realized with these IoT devices. It would be a shame not to learn about them and incorporate them into your parenting system. Just for a moment, think of all the technological developments you’ve witnessed growing up. Now imagine your kid being able to replicate that code, as a toddler. I’m not saying that every kid is the next coding genius, but technology gives me hope. The possibilities are endless. But in order to do all that we want to with the IoT — and still keep our families safe — we will need to understand the mechanism better.
Trouble in Paradise
There are definitely security concerns with all of these connected devices flooding the marketplace. We basically have the capability of assigning an IP address to every atom on Earth. But hey, business idea! As the necessity of these devices (and how easy they make day to day life) increases, so will the potential for security risks. For now, parents need to monitor this aspect of IoT with kids.
From your coffee maker and heating and cooling system to your connected car, you don’t need to be scared of these devices — but you do need to be cognizant of keeping your information secure. Connected devices are here, and will become ever more ubiquitous over the years.
Even with security concerns, the Internet of Things has improved many aspects of my life (and my child’s life). And will absolutely continue to do so as she gets older. Truthfully, I almost feel bad for my kid. I will know where she is at every moment of every day. And I’m the kind of mom who will constantly be rolling her eyes at.
With all of the smart technology in IoT, she will be capable of technological advancements I would have never thought possible. And she won’t be able to get away with nearly the amount of things I did when I was her age. But as a parent, that’s the dream, and the future here, is very bright.