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Brief Published: 7 Mar 2019

Ready for Gen Alpha: Kids Tech at Mobile World Congress

Cubroid Coding Blocks

At Mobile World Congress 2019, new products aimed at the digital natives of Gen Alpha reflected emerging attitudes about how children can – and should – interact with technology.

Australian brand Spacetalk displayed its safer phone for kids, the wearable device combines a 3G mobile phone, GPS tracker and a watch. The smartwatch device can only send and receive calls and texts from contacts on a safe list. If an unknown caller tries to establish contact parents are notified via the linked app Allmytribe. Spacetalk also prohibits access to the internet and features a "school mode" where the device can only be used to tell the time to limit distraction. Parents can reward positive behaviours, such as helping with chores, by giving on-device "award stars". The device retails for AU$349 ($245). For more on children's toys to encourage good behaviour read our recent post on The Brief.

Like Lego's Coding Express, featured in The Gen Alpha Moment, Korean manufacturer Cubroid's Coding Blocks use traditionally analogue play to teach children coding skills. It consists of a set of seven different construction blocks, equipped with LEDs and various sensors, including sound and touch. The blocks can be used to assemble shapes such as a dinosaur or a rocket, limited only by the player's imagination. A linked coding app lets children use code to animate their robot constructions, teaching STEM skills through play.

At 4YFN, MWC's start-up hub, UK based Draw & Code exhibited their Swapbots toys. Each set includes three modular toys that can be assembled into different character configurations. When scanned by a compatible device they are integrated into the Swapbot video game using augmented reality technology. The set retails at £16 ($21), making them an affordable option for parents who wish to encourage both digital and analogue play. See the 2019 Consumer Zodiac segment Supercharged Kids for more on how Gen Alpha are blurring the line between digital and analogue play.

For more coverage of MWC see our full report here.

Tune in to the next episode of Future Thinking on the 12th of March to hear our Senior Product Design Editor Dewi Pinatih discuss design for children with Bethany Koby, CEO of Tech Will Save Us.

Spacetalk kids smartwatch
Draw & Code Swapbots