Smart Home Devices for KidsDecodings
After Gen Y and Gen Z comes Gen Alpha. The market for digital devices and services is setting its sights on the upcoming generation, promising to improve their learning while entertaining them.
Generation Alpha – born between 2010, the year the iPod and Instagram were created, and 2025 – is the latest target on the market for connected kiddie entertainment and educational activities, because this population group is destined to make massive use of digital technology.
Known as “the children of Millennials”, this young cohort consumes more digital tech than any other generation. In a survey by domain.me, 44% of Gen Alpha respondents said their smartphone was their favorite plaything and only 2% said they used no tech devices at all. Obviously, understanding this generation’s behavior is going to be a key to success for anyone hoping to sell them digital products and services.
Many purveyors have already gotten the picture and are aligning their market offers with the lifestyle of these “screenagers” and future consumers.
In June 2019, Amazon rolled out Echo Dot Kids Edition, the first step towards introducing youngsters to smart home devices. The one-year subscription to Amazon Kids offers a voice-controlled virtual assistant and access to kid-friendly educational activities, Audible books, ad-free radio stations and games, not to mention parental controls.
In the same vein, Spotify, the audio streaming and media services platform, decided to launch Spotify Kids to reach “the next generation of listeners”. Under a Spotify family plan, each member of the household can have their own account and younger kids can explore music and stories hand-picked by a team of editors, the aim being to hook them as future customers. One advantage is that the main user does not have to “retrain” the algorithm responsible for the feed of suggested songs.
For Facebook, lockdown provided a timely opportunity to extend Messenger Kids to more than 70 countries. The app is for kids under 13 and designed to help kids keep in touch with friends and family safely in spite of social distancing. The parents of Gen Alpha kids approve, because, according to , 54% think that it helps their kids connect with their peers in a positive way.
In September 2020, Apple announced that it was extending the Apple Watch experience to the entire family with its Family SetUp. Parents can connect their watches with their kids’, enabling the latter “to connect with family and friends through phone calls and Messages, stay motivated with personalized Activity goals, and express their creativity through custom Memoji.” This product will be competing with Ace 2 activity tracker (Fitbit) and the Aki smartwatch for kids (Never Labs), also used by parents to keep an eye on what their young offspring are doing.
In addition, new entrants on this segment are helping to democratize this new breed of market offers by creating tools to guide kids through daily tasks in an amusing way.
Many apps aim to improve or optimize health. For instance, Pokemon Smile, Brush Monster, and Happybrush Kids not only get kids to do a good job when they brush their teeth, but use AR interactive games to make it fun.
On the cultural education front, digital solutions are introducing a more immersive and playful approach to language learning. For instance, the MondlyAR app makes learning more appealing and interactive thanks to augmented reality and a virtual assistant that engages in conversation with the user.
Similarly, this year Hachi presented Hachi Infinite, a smart touchscreen projector and virtual assistant, at the Consumer Electronics Show. It can be used to create a new kind of learning experience, notably for kids, whether the goal is to learn to speak a language, write, cook or draw.
What about kids’ personal information?
Digital identity is a very hot topic in this age of technological change, especially when it comes to the personal information of children and minors. According to a study conducted for AVG, 82% of children in the U.S. have a digital footprint before the age of 2, due to the fact that their parents share photos of them in the social media.
Last year, consumer groups accused Amazon of using Echo Dot to illegally collect children’s personal information, thus failing to comply with the children’s online privacy protection rule (COPPA), which requires operators of commercial web sites and online services to provide notice and obtain the parent’s consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13.
Some businesses have opted to center their brand identity on confidentiality. For instance, the London-based company Yoto, “the screen-free audio platform for children”, worked with the design studio Pentagram to develop a smart audio player, promising: “No camera. No microphone. No ads.
It is high time for legislators to update the legal framework, but purveyors are starting to consider and adapt to the various issues tied to the personal information, privacy and digital identity of Gen Alpha, the biggest target in this respect.