Over the decade technology has transcended economics, race, and disabilities to become a driving force in the lives of people across the world. More than two billion of us now have access to the internet and five billion of us have mobile phones.
Children are growing up in a world where mobile technology and online communities are fundamental to the way that they communicate, learn and develop.
My son, Jackson, who is 9 and has Down syndrome, uses the app Proloquo2Go to help communicate due to his verbal delays. The main aim of the app is to give children and adults with speech impediments a voice. Its visual vocabulary allows creating sentences of varying complexity to communicate wants, needs and messages that are more advanced.
It keeps him from getting frustrated because if someone can’t understand him, he can pull it out and quickly hit a few buttons to create an audible sentence anyone can understand.
A child my daughter goes to school with has diabetes and his mom is able to monitor it from home. On the tech end, devices that monitor blood sugar have existed for years. Scores of apps have cropped up to help patients manage their health and diet, keep better records and make insulin dosage less of an educated guesswork. But we're still in the dawn of the age when the readings and the data analytics can be securely collected and shared by a convenient device like a smartphone.
On a larger scale, rapidly evolving digital technology has also helped close the digital divide between the haves and have-nots. It’s enabled millions of young people in developing countries to join the digital world.
Take Uulala for example. It's a company that facilitates and accelerates the financial inclusion of the under and unbanked in Latin America.
As a mission-driven organization committed to bringing financial access to the underbanked, Uulala not only offers digital finance to previously unbanked individuals but also starts creating a credit history for each user from their first transaction.
The permanence of transaction records created on the blockchains allows individuals without credit to rely on the validity of their transaction history with Uulala. So young people can start building a credit profile that can be accepted by formal financial institutions, opening the door to larger financial offerings, like mortgages or business loans.
In Africa, young farmers are using an app, Esoko, for businesses, projects, to connect with the government.
The initial aim of the company was to provide a technology solution to collect and share market prices via SMS with farmers across most African countries. Today it is also seen as the gateway to services such as marketing and goods sourcing, mobile money deployments, national farmer clubs and statistical services.
The decision to give our kids their own cell phones can be a difficult one, especially if they are not yet teenagers. However, there are several benefits as well, and as long as you monitor your children’s phone usage, it can be a useful tool.