How technology is affecting children

The Children and Media Research Advancement Act was introduced with bipartisan support to the Senate last week. This bill would allow the director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) to conduct and support research that studies how children are affected with early exposure to technology. The $95 million bill would include long-term studies over the next five years.

The bill would test cognitive and physical health of infants, children, and teenagers based upon their exposure to social media, games and apps, movies, and more technologically advanced products. The bill has been endorsed by Facebook and Common Sense, a nonprofit that advocates for children and families in the technological age.

The University of Southern Florida is running a summer camp for teens right now that teaches about cybersecurity. SecureSet, based in Ybor City, has dozens of teenagers enrolled, proof that the Children and Media Research Advancement Act will be successful in learning about how the younger generation are interacting with, learning about, utilizing, and becoming affected by technology. The teens are learning about cybersecurity specialists through the program hosted by USF’s College of Education, the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, and the Florida Center for Instructional Technology. There are estimated to be over 300,000 open jobs in the cybersecurity field in the United States alone, with predictions that the number could rise to well over 2 million in a few years.

USF’s Dr. Nathan Fisk said about the program, “There’s only one rule, and that’s that they should leave this camp thinking cybersecurity is cool.”

Other summer camps are using cybersecurity to protect children enrolled in their programs, with backlash and support. Waldo Photos has been selling a service to summer camps where images of children are scanned and sent to parents. Parents are able to see photos of their children at sleep-away camps, with the company using photos of children that parents uploaded to their system to pinpoint which children belongs to which parent. Parents might enjoy this technology and peace of mind, but privacy watchdogs say that police could use this system to scan and monitor people in crowds.

The president of Microsoft agreed that the dangers that could be caused by this technology should cause the government to intervene to regulate it. The system is currently in place at over 100 camps in over 33 states, with schools and sports teams also choosing to add the system to their parent offerings.

Similarly, wearable devices have made their way into the medical field and may contribute to medical-related artificial intelligence. Healthcare professionals will be able to use the information from wearable devices to track patient changes in health and possibly determine better routes of care. Parents surveyed were in favor of this technology to monitor their children, with parents of teenagers most likely to implement the use of these devices. Childproof pool and pool safety ideas could be implemented with the use of a wearable device, as well as the tracking of heat exhaustion, hypothermia, low blood sugar, fevers, and other common health concerns.

In the United States, survey responses saw 13% of infant parents, 19% of toddler parents, 22% of 5- year- old parents and 32% of teens agreeing to utilize technology like this. 14% of parents said no. Those results were similar in the other countries, the United Kingdom, India, China, and Brazil, where parents were surveyed. Worldwide averages followed suit.

In an age where technology is always changing and companies are always finding new ways to use it for good and safety, Nissan has added a rear door alert (RDA) as a standard feature for the Nissan Altima, the Nissan Rogue, and the Nissan Sentra. This technology is being implemented to prevent children from being left in hot vehicles.

The software works like this: if a vehicle’s rear doors were opened at the start of a trip, the car will honk the horn automatically when the journey ends. This is supposed to prompt drivers to check their back seats. The feature can be enabled or disabled through the car’s trip computer for those drivers who may not have children. According to the National Safety Council, 43 children died in the United States last year after being left in hot cars.

Nissan first implemented this technology last year for the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder. Nissan is adding the new three models next year, with a total of eight more vehicles implementing this technology in 2018. By 2020, Nissan says all of their vehicle models will have RDA as a standard feature.

Engineers Elsa Foley and Marlene Mendoza created this technology after Mendoza left a pan of lasagna in the car overnight. They are the patent holders for this advanced and safe technology.

“The worst thing was the car smelled for days, but it made me ask myself, ‘What if I left something far more important back there?'” Mendoza commented.

General Motors offers a feature called rear seat reminder, as well, but that technology chimes within the car similar to a seatbelt alert, rather than outside the vehicle, like the car honk implemented with RDA technology.

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