Smart watches: benefiting or manipulating children?
  ·  2023-03-10  ·   Source: NO.11 MARCH 16, 2023

In recent years, smart watches for kids have been gaining popularity with children and parents alike in China, thanks to their many useful features. Currently, 30 percent of Chinese children aged between 5 and 12 have a smart watch, and this proportion is much higher among urban children. 

Although children's smart watches do help parents locate their children and contact them, which is usually the reason parents buy them in the first place, hidden concerns about these watches have gradually been brought into the spotlight. Numerous smart watch features not only distract children's attention from schooling, but also lure them into making unnecessary purchases and put their privacy at risk.

Lu Na ( Smart watches are not necessarily the monsters in this situation. They make life more convenient for both children and parents. They also provide opportunities for children to have fun and interact with each other. However, smart watches are also a source of privacy risks and security concerns.

Children tend to leak their personal information more easily than adults, leading to security issues. Additionally, pornographic and violent content is spread on child smart watches, which damages children's mental health. Also, children might be subject to online bullying in this digital world for kids.

Given these challenges, manufacturers are obligated to design smart watches that are safe for children to use. Instead of adding a wide range of features to the watches, producers should focus on basic functions that children are really in need of and can depend on.

Zhang Zhiquan ( Child smart watches make it possible for parents to know their children's whereabouts at all times and to contact them, so they are happy to give them to their children. But gradually, they are losing control of how their kids use their watches. The danger increases as children add more and more people to buddy lists on the watches. At the same time, children are distracted by the many fun features the watches display on their screens. Excessive time spent on smart watches also leads to health risks such as poorer eyesight and sleep deprivation. Children might also be lured into making purchases and their leaked personal information may be taken advantage of by users with bad intentions.

Children are the future of a nation. There must be a firewall against potential harms stemming from smart watches. Related authorities should also upgrade efforts to clamp down on misdoings like exposing child users' privacy and feeding them inappropriate information. If properly designed and used, child smart watches can play the helpful role parents expect them to play.

Zhang Chunyi ( Originally, smart watches for kids only had simple but useful functions, like locating children and basic communication. Nowadays, however, smart watches are being increasingly embraced by children as they have functions like taking photos, accessing the Internet, playing games, chatting online and even paying online. Particularly, as smartphones are now forbidden on campuses, smart watches have become the only electronic products for communication allowed on school grounds.

Behind the huge market of child smart watches hides a chaotic scene. Some watches can host dozens of apps, including gaming apps, fueling children's addiction to games. Some apps allow password-free payment and, as a result, parents pay for whatever their children purchase on their smart watches without even knowing it. Worse still, with the help of some apps, criminals can retrieve watch users' location histories, facial images and sound recordings.

Children are not yet intellectually mature and therefore unable to control their own behaviors effectively. So parents and teachers must monitor children's smart watch usage to prevent them from doing real damage.

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson 

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