Buying the right technology for our kids can be a daunting and terrifying task. Today in the Lab we are joined by Emmy winning television journalist Jennifer Jolly. A long time tech reporter, Jennifer is an expert at spotting trends in the world of kids and digital gadgetry. Jennifer Jolly has some suggestions and tips about what kinds of electronic gadgets that students needs, and which ones parents can skip. Kids as young as two years old know their way around tablets and smart phones, but is that a good thing? That Laptop may be the best starting place for smaller kids because parental controls are easy to set up. Jennifer stresses the importance of setting boundaries for kids on their tech journey. Technology is not the enemy of parents if used wisely. Ep 815 is brought to you by BabyBjorn
Daddy Clay: These days kids as young as elementary schoolers are interested in the latest gadgets. How do we decide as parents which ones we should give them, and which ones we should avoid? Well, to help us decide that, today we've got expert Jennifer Jolly. She's an Emmy‑award winning broadcast journalist and a mom, and she's going to tell us all we need to know. Come right back. [music]Daddy Clay: Jennifer, thanks so much for being on the show with us today.Jennifer Jolly: Thanks so much for having me.Daddy Clay: Help us sort through this puzzle. This is a big one for modern parents. These kids are so young when they get interested in gadgets now.Jennifer: That's exactly right. Kids as young as two years old know their way around the tablets and the smart phones better than their parents. The first thing that you have to decide as a busy parent ‑ modern mom ‑ these days is really at what age do you let them start? Then as they get older, what is appropriate? That's really the first question out there, and there's no one answer for that question. It's fine to let your toddler mess around on your technology. Then when they get into school, it's about the time when they're usually ready to have a little of their own technology.Daddy Clay: At that point, they've decided they want a gadget of their own. What do you suggest is the entry‑level gadgetry for kids at that age?Jennifer: I am all about saving money. I am fine with letting my child, I was fine with letting her when she was five, she's 10 now, get on to my laptop. I made sure that I set the controls so that there was nothing that could really malfunction. I made sure she couldn't go to any nefarious or nasty websites. Just setting parental controls and letting them go onto your gadgets is probably the most realistic place for them to start.Daddy Clay: Is there any gadgetry or any things out there that parents should really avoid, that you're really not in favor of?Jennifer: I just don't think it's a good idea to give a child an expensive gadget. I think you're setting everyone up for failure with that one. If you drop it, it shouldn't break. It should be made of very sturdy plastic, or you need a really good cover and some kind of protection for it. I also don't think it's a good idea to give your child the whole universe as far as gadgets are concerned right off the bat. If they're able to get online with their specific gadget, make sure you have parental controls in place so that they can't go wandering off to any old nook and cranny on the Internet. You have to think of technology and the online world in the same way that you think of their offline world.You have to give kids boundaries, and you have to hold their hand, and you have to really guide them on their tech journey.Daddy Clay: But don't you think it's incumbent on us as parents to know the technology at least as well as the kids? And if we're not able to master that technology, we shouldn't be providing it to our kids. Our kids shouldn't know the technology better than we do, don't you think?Jennifer: You're exactly right. I think, in general, what I see every single day is that parents are feeling totally overwhelmed. I remember being a reporter before cell phones and before the Internet. Now we didn't start out with these things. This wasn't a part of our lives growing up. Your kids are always going to be smarter than you are at certain technologies. That's just something that you have to realize. But you can learn. Any parent ‑ it doesn't matter what your background is‑ it doesn't matter what your education is ‑ any parent can learn technology. If you can follow a recipe, a simple recipe, then you can learn how to drive your own smart phone. You can learn how to operate a computer. Let technology help you. This is one area where modern technology can actually help you deal with modern technology. Set something like McAfee's All Access to protect your computer, but also to help you set up the parental controls.This is the HP Pavilion TV6 right here. There's this slot that you might put a coin in. It's a fingerprint scanner. A lot of devices are coming with these these days, and we totally ignore them. If you swipe your finger it takes you right where you need to go online. It will recognize each individual family member's fingerprint, and it helps with security, parental control, and to keep down cyber clutter. That's one of those little ways that modern technology can really help you.Daddy Clay: There's no reason for parents to be afraid of technology. Technology isn't the enemy. It shouldn't be a source of anxiety. It really should be a help to you. There's plenty of help and advice out there that's going to help you utilize the parental controls, including the technology you've just shown us. Thanks so much for that.Jennifer: Thank you.Daddy Clay: Thanks, guys, for joining us. That's all for us this week "In the Lab." We want to thank our sponsors Dave and Bjorn. If you want to see some fantastic technology, watch the Travel Crib Light unfold. That's a pretty cool deal. That's all for us. We'll see you next time here "In the Lab."