3 Tips for Kids and Tech: Uncle’s Responsibility
The 2013 International Consumer Electonics Show (CES) wrapped up January 11, and from that show came a dump truck full of toys for kids of all ages. Phones and speakers and medical tech were the order of the day. But the most valuable thing I took home with me from CES this year was the vision of new technology that makes learning fun for kids.
In eight years of covering the trade show — mostly for outlets like NPR, Technology Review, MobileMag, and Automotive Rhythms — I think I've seen it all. Headphones that limit sound levels (great for nieces and nephews with delicate hearing); training potties with a bracket to hold a tablet PC or iPad (keep them entertained while they learn how to go); robots made of LEGO®-like blocks (that can be controlled remotely).
While these cool tech toys make great gifts for your favorite young relatives, there are three things you should bear in mind when buying technology for nieces and nephews. Here are my tips in order of importance...
1. Clear all gadgets with Mom and Dad.
Don't purchase games, game systems, cell phones or mobile devices, or even televisions without ensuring that the tech gift you're about to give has the approval of Mom and Dad. There's nothing worse than presenting your niece or nephew with a tech toy that they're forbidden to use until they're older.
2. You are tech support.
As the uncle who gives a technology gift, don't foist the hard work of explaining how to use a toy on your brother or sister. You're the hero and as such you should teach your niece and nephew how to use their new Walkie Talkie, camera, robot, or other cool new toy.
3. When possible, find gifts that can be shared by other siblings and the whole family.
Lots of technology gifts are now available that bring the whole family into the mix. From board games with tech counters to skateboards that operate like Segways, there are lots of toys that meet this criterion. Make sure the technology you're buying brings young ones together. If you can do this, you'll always be the favorite uncle.
Oh, last but not least, remember the lesson that's been relearned on every gift-giving occasion since the beginning of time. Don't forget the batteries.
Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Cutler
Published: January 22, 2013