THE NEXT time you are puzzled by an app on your smartphone, the chances are that your three year-old will have the answer. An astonishing 57 per cent of children aged three to five can operate at least one mobile app, up from 19 per cent in 2012.
The third anniversary of the Digital Diaries research by security firm
The digital divide between a generation unfamiliar with emerging technologies and one of digital natives that grew up "internetworked" is disappearing and we are racing to adapt.
But the digital divide is as much about usage as access, and knowing how to use digital devices is now almost a birthright. The challenge we face, augmented by technology, is what we do with these digital literacies. It's similar when teaching a child to read and write.
Learning how is the first challenge, but it is what you do with these skills that determines their value and risks.
Can we trust parents to lead by example? Through the cultural phenomenon of "sharenting", parents are gifting children a digital footprint before they can walk, talk, or - in some cases - leave the womb. In 2013, 62 per cent of participants in the Digital Diaries study uploaded a photograph of their child before their first birthday, and almost a third at the prenatal stage.
On current trajectories, over 90 per cent of kids aged three to five will be able to operate a smartphone in five years' time. Access will become a nonissue - but access to and through what? The Internet of Things embeds sensors and advanced instrumentation into a range of everyday devices. Already more people use their phone for gaming than calls. Big Data will just be data, and the collection and analysis of enormous pools of human activity will be commonplace.
For individuals, data services will migrate from extensions like phones to the embedded sensors and purpose-built devices of wearable technology and augmented reality. For privacy and security, citizens of the world will need digital guardian angels, watching over them and monitoring access and the commodification of their personal information. This will be particularly crucial for children, dealing with the risks of cyberbullying and grooming.
Socio-economically, over the next five years, we'll see further evidence of a global transition from the last generation that doesn't "get" digital to a hybrid generation, with one foot in traditional hierarchical practices and the other in digital networks and crowds. Hinting at the possibilities in corporations are innovations like
Culturally, there are regional discrepancies in the research. Children aged six to nine in
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