Should you give kids smartwatches?

Thank Qualcomm for sparking this latest conversation.
Qualcomm, Tech, Technology, Business, Wearables, Smartwatch, Kids, OS, Society, Mobile


Time for a debate on kids and tech, no?

It’s one of those age-old quandaries: anytime a new technology is developed, philosophers, caregivers, parents, conservative media outlets and politicians, and more all rend their garments over the debate about whether kids should have access to such technology. Computers. The Internet. Smartphones. Social media. Heck, even going back to bicycles, candlesticks, and even books.

The latest brouhaha: smartwatches.

Dun, dun, dun.

The catalyst for the controversy comes courtesy of Qualcomm. More than two years after the company last introduced a smartwatch processor, it’s now rolling out the Snapdragon Wear 2500 – a new chip based around what Qualcomm apparently sees as an emerging market of smartwatches for children.

But before parents have palpitations about more devices and screens in their kids’ lives, Qualcomm wearables chief Pankaj Kedia says – according to The Verge – that the watches are means for kids to keep learning beyond classrooms in schools; in other words, not to play Pokémon GO 24/7 and literally everywhere.

As he told The Verge: “It’s like you grew up on Alexa and you want to take Alexa with you. You want to ask Alexa ‘what’s the capital of the US’ or ‘who is the 35th president of the US?’ or learn a different language, and voice assistants are making it easy for you to do that. Literally, kids in that bracket are using kid watches to learn.”

The Snapdragon Wear 2500 chip is only about two-thirds the size of other Wear chips, and – allegedly – offers a longer battery life while supporting LTE, cameras up to five megapixels, location tracking, and more.

The Wear 2500 chip is around a third smaller than prior Wear chips and is supposed to provide slightly better battery life. The chip supports LTE, up to a 5-megapixel camera, location tracking, and plenty of other sensors.

Perhaps also allaying caregivers’ fears, the Wear 2500 also doesn’t support Google’s regular smartwatch platform, Wear OS. Rather, it supports Android for Kids, and it seems unlikely there’ll be an app store or even pre-loaded Pokémon GO.

Naturally, if Qualcomm is getting in on smartwatches for kids, one can imagine loads of other companies will soon also be doing the same. And while only a few hardware partners are on board at present (Huawei being one of them), it’s pretty likely the numbers will soon increase exponentially. And then get ready to see them all over the Middle East and Africa too.

But before the arguments for and against smartwatches for kids really begin, consider: aren’t these the same discussions about technology people have been having anyway since, well, forever?

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