There’s plenty of exciting technology to look forward to in 2017. But along with all the potential, each has its own dangers for children and young people who are using it unawares.
Internet Matters, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to keeping children safe online has a wealth of easy-to-understand advice to help parents keep their children safe online and when using technology.
Here’s our guide to which technologies will be big this year, as well as what parents need to know to keep their children safe.
2016 may have been the year that virtual reality finally took off, but it’s predicted to become much bigger in 2017. Why? Two words: cheaper headsets. HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Acer have all announced they’re working on more affordable VR headsets that work with Windows 10. These are expected to cost around $300 (£245), which is a fraction of the cost of current models.
Microsoft hasn’t revealed the recommended age limit, but with Sony’s PlayStation VR coming with a 12 rating, there’s a good chance it won’t be suitable for younger children.
Some games might not be appropriate for younger gamers, and be wary of who your child is talking to and interacting with using the social element of virtual reality. The experiences may be virtual, but they can all too easily lead to real-world meet-ups.
Pokemon Go is the most widely known use of augmented reality (where virtual graphics are overlaid on to a view of the real world). Expect plenty more apps and games to use the technology in 2017.
While it encourages children to get out and about, it can mean they end up wandering where they shouldn’t, and perhaps talking to strangers. There have also been cases of players being robbed for their smartphones, so make sure they’re aware at all times and don’t go into secluded areas.
Internet of Things
Expect more home appliances like fridges and kettles to be connected to the internet in 2017, and – crucially – for them to come down in price. Connected devices can all talk to each other, and be controlled from afar using mobile apps.
As a parent, you should make sure they’re all password protected, and not using the default password. This is especially important so your child can’t turn on the heating remotely and for devices like cameras, so you are safe from someone picking up your phone and viewing your home (and potentially child) without permission.
Nintendo’s next console is due in March, and lets players play using a tablet device that they then dock into another element when at home to play on the TV.
Such a device will be very desirable to thieves, so your child should be careful where they play with it in public. Games are also likely to have a social element, letting players meet up to play against each other in person, so make sure your child knows not to talk to strangers.
We can expect new smartphones from all the major manufacturers including Samsung and Sony.
Parental controls – like those offered to BT Broadband and BT Mobile customers – are a must to stop your children viewing inappropriate content online, and from racking up big bills through in-app purchases.
Both Facebook and Instagram introduced live video features in 2016, so the tech will be big in 2017. Because videos are live, there’s no way to edit them, so children could see something that they shouldn’t (one example was someone being shot live on camera).
Other dangers include your child being bullied or harassed in real time, and them giving away their location to strangers, either on purpose or accidentally.
As ever, it’s vital to talk to your child to make sure they know what they’re doing, and aren’t putting themselves in danger.
For a comprehensive and easy-to-use resource of the most up-to-date information for keeping your child safe online, check out Internet Matters.