In United States, more and more parents are buying Apple Watches for their kids, hoping to use watch as a temporary measure so their kids can use electronic devices. Using cellular function, smart watch will locate children in real time, reducing risk of getting lost. In addition, miniature screen of smart watch can also alleviate problem of Internet addiction among teenagers. However, researchers pointed out that smartwatches cannot completely avoid teens' cybersecurity issues, and even watch itself carries certain risks that parents still need to manage carefully.
Smart watches for teenagers
The New York Times notes that kids and teens seem to have become a huge market for smartwatches in general. In a 2020 survey of American teenagers by investment bank Piper Sandler, 31% said they own a smartwatch. In same year, only 21% of American adults said they own a smartwatch, according to Pew Research Center.
Electronics manufacturers are also developing smartwatches for teenagers. For example, Apple deliberately made watch an attractive device for kids and parents. In 2020, Apple released Apple Watch SE, which has fewer features than premium model and costs $120 less. Apple also introduced Family Setup software, which allows parents to track their children's location, manage contact lists, and limit their notifications. People involved in project said it took about three years for Apple to make Apple Watch a kid-friendly phone and fix battery life issues.
Apple COO Jeff Williams said, "For family members who don't have an iPhone, Apple Watch offers a remarkable array of features to help them stay connected, more active, and safer. ." Apple has not disclosed Apple Watch sales. But there are at least 120 million Apple Watch owners today, mostly in US, according to Counterpoint Research. Apart from Apple Watch SE, according to Forbes, smartwatches that many American kids prefer to wear are TickTalk 4, Fitbit Ace 3, Verizon GizmoWatch 2, etc.
An alternative to smartphones?
Any technology used by children presents a potential risk and harm. Social media platforms have come under scrutiny in recent years, with US lawmakers holding congressional hearings on issue in 2021 and focusing on whether sites like Instagram are contributing to lower self-esteem among teens. Jaya Balu, director of information security at an online security and antivirus software provider, said: "In 2022, parenting is getting more and more complicated: kids have access to the internet and various devices that allow them to access it."
Baru's study found: "Parents are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with technological advances and their children's growing knowledge, and they naturally worry that their children know more about Internet than they do. Parents should use simple steps and easy-to-use tools to educate themselves and ensure that their children can enjoy positive aspects of Internet.” Faced with this situation, product designer Fangor said that many people are pessimistic about technology gradually entering children's lives, but "in watch frame Guilty, I'm not afraid, I want to study it." From this point of view, smartwatches are a good alternative to smartphones for children.
Because smartwatches have few apps, no web browser and no camera, kids are less likely to use them, says Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that tests media and technology for families. distracting games, sexting and other adult content. Smart watches can help children learn how to do things on their own without a smartphone. "You want to have access to them, but you don't want them glued to your screen all day."
American parent John Desi decided to use Apple Watch as an alternative to his smartphone when his daughter was 10 years old. He mentioned that at beginning of epidemic, his daughter started playing outside more. To give her daughter more freedom to “adventure” in community, they ended up choosing Apple Watch because they couldn’t find “old-fashioned mobile phones.” Desi said, “We we want to give her opportunity to communicate, not give her a Pandora's box when she was 10."
Are smartwatches required?
Kathryn Perlman, licensed clinical social worker and founder of The Family Coach, says need for a smartwatch is relative. "Children often say they want smartwatches when they don't really need them. However, there are good reasons why parents want to buy smartwatches for their kids."
Jean M. Twenge, who has written a book on how technology can cause generational differences, believes that later a child gets a smartphone, better. Children "will be more mature and better able to cope with challenges and potential dangers presented by smartphones." But he also found that smartwatches do not guarantee delayed phone use, and teenagers demand smartphones when they notice that everyone around them uses them. You could say that smartwatches are not ideal solution to potential Internet risks for teenagers.
At same time, smartwatches are fraught with certain hidden risks. Pearlman once mentioned in his work The First Phone: A Children's Guide to Digital Responsibility, Safety, and Etiquette: "Even simple smartwatches carry potential dangers that parents should educate their children about." to learn how to deal with "unfamiliar danger" in online environment and how to protect personal information. In addition, children should learn some etiquette so that they do not focus on school when they should be or look at smart watches while playing with friends. Parents should help their children overcome these difficulties."
A smart watch is not a phone, but it still has some of characteristics of a phone. Both smartwatches and smartphones have bells and whistles that can notify us of text messages, emails, comments, likes or shares, Pearlman explained. If parents want to realize original intention to buy a smart watch, they should set rules for using smart watches before giving them to their children, including determining "when to put away screen during day, such as when not to eat, do homework" . or to school, before going to bed. "One hour, family time and screen time after sleep."
News sources: New York Times, Forbes, web photos
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