2017’s biggest tech trends for your tweens

Technology is no longer a gimmick or a toy: it’s the driving force behind everything from entertainment to socialising. But with most of it all existing online, how are you able to control the safety of your child, with the latest in tech?

Your kids are officially smack-bang in the tech generation. Whilst many of us grew up with books, and toys that only survived on AA batteries; kids these days are living in the Jetson’s tech fantasy of our dreams.

But most of us are of a generation that are still wrapping our heads around emoji and Snapchat* - so how are we, as parents, meant to stay across the latest tech trends?

Fear not. We’ve put together the top five tech trends to keep your eye out for in 2017. Whether your kids are primary school age or moving into high school, these are going to be the ‘next big thing’ to stay across. And hey, you might be able to avoid the standard groan and ‘C’mon Muuuuum’ next time they started talking tech. Win win!

Virtual reality
Yep, we’re there already. Many of you will have seen - and maybe even tried out! - one of the many Virtual Reality (VR) headsets at local tech stores. Updated versions of virtual reality headsets are set to be released in 2017, with even wilder and more immersive games and programs.

Verdict? There are plenty of educative programs to download and experience within VR. Try out Miamiopia which teaches maths, biology, geography, history and science, with kids then earning rewards in the form of virtual coins which they can use to purchase items from the online shop.

Augmented reality
Don’t know the difference between your virtual and augmented reality? Easy. Virtual reality is a headset you wear that makes you feel INSIDE that universe. Augmented reality is a program on your smartphone that keeps you in this universe, but with fictional additions. Case in point: Pokémon Go*.

Verdict? Augmented reality apps like Pokémon Go are a great way to encourage the kids to get out of the house and explore the real world with friends. Let’s hope 2017 brings more of the same.

Cloud-based gaming
If you have a teen, you know computer games well. With the advent of speedy internet around 10 years ago, online or ‘shared’ gaming experiences became a massive hit: teens could interact and chat with gamers around the world. But cloud gaming is even bigger again.

Basically, it will be what Netflix* is to movies, or Pandora* is to music. It means a game is stored, executed, and rendered on a server in the Cloud - as opposed to the computer.

Verdict? Er - jury’s out. Older computer models or specific consoles usually allowed a level of parental moderation on their kid’s gaming. Now, with a good internet connection, they are able to access anything, anytime. Be careful with this one...

Robotic toys
The new breed of robotic toys are not the remote control cars we’re used to. Tethered to smartphone or tablet devices, they can be programmed to act autonomously to human control and interact with their environment.

Verdict? Needing construction from the base up, these are great educational tools. They require experimentation and creativity. A good solid buy.

Coding
Computer and online coding is now commonplace among most high school aged kids, as digital curriculum is now requiring the compulsory inclusion of coding up to Year 10. There are now many coding sites that provide both virtual and hands on activities that kids can do. Using these skills, they can build apps, games, even websites.

Verdict? Your teen is going to become obsessed with building SOMETHING online in the next few years, so just make sure you run them through online safety and remind them that a digital footprint is forever!

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