As kids around the world head back to school, kids’ media professionals are about to get schooled as well.
Kindoma, the company for which I'm a developer, is getting ready to head out to Digital Kids Summit, a conference that brings together the greatest minds in kids' media and technology and helps us figure out how to bring healthy, magical educational experiences into the hands of children.
It’s a complex and important issue. On one hand, “screen time” has a negative connotation and is often seen as a distraction. On the other hand, there is a huge push to take advantage of the ubiquity and opportunities of technology to help kids learn -- and potentially even transform education.
Ultimately, the best kids' products (in technology, apps, games, and toys, for example) need to be:
• Fun: Kids need to want to play it.
• Researched-based: A product needs to be proven to help children learn.
• Discoverable: Parents/educators need to know about it.
• Sustainable: It needs to be funded and ideally self-sustaining.
It is truly difficult to achieve this balance. Let’s be honest -- it's hard for the kids' media industry to fund, make, and market quality apps that parents and educators can find, that kids want to play (over and over again), and that are proven to help them learn.
That’s why conferences like this are so important. With children spending as much as six hours each day in front of screens, it's more important than ever that the media they're exposed to is high-quality and provides differentiated experiences from what can be done without technology.
Kindoma, for example, is honored to be speaking on a panel about building brands that encourage imagination, fuel invention, and build connections in the digital space. Our company's focus is on family engagement and bridging distance. Although 85 percent of families with young children have used video-calling apps such as Skype or FaceTime, adults often find video calls with children frustrating and difficult. The reason for this is simple: Young kids don't want to chat, they want to play. We are working on reimagining video calling specifically for kids -- and are excitedly getting ready to announce a revolutionary new product at the conference.
Whether you're a developer, a teacher, or a parent, it's important that we all continue to seek out the highest-quality digital media experiences for our children. Today's kids and parents have come of age at a time of unprecedented knowledge and creativity. Never before have they had the know-how, the tools, and the networks to make their ideas a reality. From creating their own content to seeing their own robots come to life, to collaborating over video calls with children around the globe, creative play has never had greater possibilities. Let’s all continue to "get schooled" on how to build, choose, and use the plethora of kids’ digital media that is available.