Tablets, a toothbrush with augmented reality, educational games: there are many gadgets for children in the aisles of the Las Vegas Electronic Lounge, despite concerns about the risks of addiction to technology and screens.
At CES, very young people have their own section with products that organizers say will “enable 21st-century children to learn and play smarter”.
With its eponymous tablets, the Chinese startup Dragon Touch aims “for 3 to 6 years,” says his boss Lei Guo. Colorful design, playful stylus, educational applications …, the digital device also has an interface for parental control.
“Parents can limit the time that their children spend on the tablet, for example, 30 minutes a day,” says the young entrepreneur, acknowledging that “it is the number one concern of parents.”
“I do not want my kids to spend too much time on the internet,” but if they’re banned from the tablet, “the kids are crying and I do not want to break their hearts,” he laughs.
At all manufacturers, the speech is well-honed
The myriad studies on the risks of children’s addiction to screens, social networks and smartphones are now part of the landscape, warning against the risks of anxiety, depression, obesity or sleep disorders.
A debate that resurfaced earlier this week with the letter of two major shareholders of the US giant Apple, concerned about the effects on the mental health of excessive use of iPhone, and asking the group a study on the addiction of the youngest people to his smartphones.
In response, Apple has ensured “have always been vigilant about children” and “work hard to create products (…) that entertain and educate children while helping parents protect them online” through control tools parental for example.
Amy Braun, marketing director of the American startup Pai Technology, is pragmatic face these fears: “The technology is there for a moment and it is important to expose our children to the technology but in a beneficial way”.
With the “Pai Storybooks”, children’s storybooks that an application can transform into virtual reality on the screen of a tablet, “it’s about transforming the time spent on a screen in time. reading “via technology,” she says.
“The question is not + screen or no screen +”, says the young woman.
In the United States, “41% of families had a mobile device at home in 2011” against “95% today,” according to the specialized association Common Sense Media.
With Magik, the colorful toothbrush for 6-12 years of French Kolibree, the child looks at the screen of a smartphone or tablet while brushing his teeth. “Thanks to the image analysis, the application detects brushing movements,” explains its designer Léonie Williamson.
Brushing becomes a game using augmented reality: the child must eliminate small monsters in the image – proof that the brush is handled correctly – to earn points.
Asked if this does not encourage children to spend more time on screens, Williamson relativizes: “It’s limited to three brushings of two minutes a day, otherwise the children would brush their teeth ten times a day. after !”
It’s a “balance to find,” says Ahren Hoffmann, head of education at the American Association of Independent Toy Stores.
It is necessary for children to come out having fun, play with traditional toys, board games but also uses their tablets and their technological toys, learn to make (computer) code and all those things that are around us these days, “she says.