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Growing up with Sensors and Smart Devices: How will the Internet of Everything Impact Our Children?

“Growing up is never easy. You hold onto things that were. You wonder what’s to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come.”  - The Wonder Years

I’ve always liked this quote from one of the best TV shows of all time. And in an age where things are constantly changing, it’s never been more relevant. Today’s grandparents and parents spent their childhood in a world without sensors, smart phones and network capable devices at their fingertips. Our children, however, are growing up in a drastically new world. A world where everything is instant, where networked devices are part of their everyday lives and technology is in everything they do. This world enables unlimited potential and unlimited connections that can impact a child’s life for the better. So how will the Internet of Everything (IoE) prepare children for the smart people network they will live, learn, work and play in?

At Home

Aspects of a child’s home life today differ vastly from the experiences you or I had growing up. IoE has made way for advances in home automation and smart living functions that will help teach children about technology and its functionality at a young age. In fact, it’s thought that learning to use features of home automation may come naturally to children surrounded by technology. Being able to lock doors, control air conditioning and monitor home lighting systems all from a cell phone or tablet are things that children will grow up using and perhaps even managing. These experiences learned at home will also transfer into other phases of children’s lives as they grow older and begin working and living on their own. For example, take in to account an average 8-year-old who has grown up with technology along with home automation features. When they are grown and ready to move into their own apartment or house within the next 10-15 years, what will home life look like to them? Whatever that may be, today’s children will be well-equipped for newer technology and further advanced home automation features.

At School

Recently, I discussed in another blog post how the Internet of Everything is connecting classrooms, teachers and students to enable a comprehensive learning experience. When it comes to creating new ways of collaborating, the possibilities are endless at work and school. During the latter part of their childhood, I remember my children spending time chatting with school friends via instant messaging services. Today IoE is driving virtual face-to-face interaction through telepresence, video chatting, and a myriad of social media tools.

At Work

Children who grow up using technology and connected devices through IoE’s intricate network will benefit from their early experiences when it comes time for them to enter the workforce. We already see how office automation and a mobile workforce deliver innovative work results and employee experiences. Our children will be well-equipped with the skills and knowledge of all things connected to manage this constant working, technology evolution. There is great value at stake in the workforce with IoE. A Cisco survey found that global executives anticipate job growth and wage increases as a result of IoE. Nearly half of executives surveyed in the study think IoE will lead to higher wages at their companies, and one-third believe it will drive higher employment levels in their firms.

At Play

The Internet of Everything is changing the way children play with toys and connect with other children. Most children today are growing up not only watching their parents use laptops, smart phones and tablets, but they are also participating themselves. A 2011 study by Common Sense Media found that in a typical day, one in ten 0-to 8-year-olds uses a smartphone, video iPod, iPad, or similar device to play games, watch videos, or use other apps -- a statistic that will surely increase.  Apps like Elmo Loves ABCs, Little Digits – Finger Counting and PianoBall are tailored to young children and are creating a generation that seamlessly integrates technology with play. To quote Disney’s, The Little Mermaid, the Internet of Everything is providing this rising generation with “gadgets and gizmos a-plenty.” From smartphone-controlled toy cars and educational motion gaming, to kid-friendly 3D printers  and coloring book tablets. The Internet of Everything is truly creating a whole new world focused on fun, efficiency and innovation.

How do you think connected technology will affect future generations at home, school, work and play? Let us know in the comments section below.

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