October 27, 2020
Technology for kids should be designed for kids
There is something insidious about kids technology right now. Products for kids are stripped-down adult products. They are phones with training wheels, computers with parental controls. But fundamentally these devices are adult technology repackaged for kids.
This practice isn’t just lazy, it’s dangerous.
COSMO has heard countless stories from our customers about how they found their way to our business. Almost all of those stories share a disturbing theme -- parental controls that failed, devices that had backdoors, kids that hacked through safety settings, and apps that weren’t what they appeared to be. If this is your story, keep reading.
If you’re a photographer, there’s a phone for you. If you’re a business person, there’s a phone for you. Elderly, phone for you. Contractor, phone for you. Bilingual, phone for you. Child? Here’s a generic adult phone but we replaced the icons with cartoon figures.
Technology companies have so far refused to sit down and custom design hardware and software that meets children’s needs. To do so requires focus groups, research, experimentation and investment.
That’s what COSMO did, and we came up with the COSMO Kids Smartwatch, a device that is fun to use and packed with safety features.
Uncompromising is the most important virtue when you’re designing technology for kids. That means it’s not good enough to present a top layer of software that looks child friendly and leave all of the powerful connectivity tools just under the surface.
Parents who don’t want their kids to browse the internet also don’t want to give their kids a device that could browse the internet if you knew how to download the right application.
A device designed specifically for kids doesn’t have firewalls, filters and parental controls to keep the child from using all of the features of the device. A device for kids simply doesn’t have the harmful features at all.
COSMO’s approach to kids technology was born out of a crisis that every parent understands: how to keep in touch with your child without putting your child in touch with everyone else in the world. Parents are concerned about limiting screen time for kids, and are worried that getting their kids a cell phone at too young of an age can lead to issues later on.
Childhood is a time for learning, dreaming and imagination. It’s learning about life in small bites and being sheltered from events and things in the world that do not yet make sense. Some of those things will never make sense and kids can suffer incredibly if they are exposed to them.
When you design technology for kids you have to reimagine the purpose. Adults have an entirely different array of needs and desires. You have to strip away all presuppositions about what the device is for and what it can do.
Young kids want connection, but the most important people in their life are their parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Very often, teachers are also in the circle of “most trusted persons” for kids.
Almost across the board, young kids place their peers at the bottom of the list of people they want or need access to throughout the day.
That is why the COSMO Smart watch for kids is built with easy to use, powerful communication functions that connect kids with approved adult contacts.
Social functions are there for the kids that want to use them (with parental permission) but the emphasis of the device is on safe, fun communication with trusted adults.
Beyond that, kids want to express themselves with their device. It should look and feel like their own. COSMO achieves this by providing for an array of functions that kids can use and customize.
Not only is it empowering to be able to call grandpa from your own phone, it’s fun to take photos and build your own photo albums.
We believe that introducing kids to technology without all of the algorithms and attention draining media is a healthy first step forward. COSMO is a soft entry point for families that want to approach technology differently.
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