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Top STEAM Moments 2019: Technology

Our team have rounded up the top tech moments of 2019. From writing with your mind, creating meaningful tech experiences & a shift in the powers of tech giants! It’s been a titanic year for tech.

1. Reevaluating the power Tech "Giants" have

Bethany Koby – CEO & Co-Founder (Mother of Ash, 8 & Apollo, 8 months old)

An interesting & important tech moment for me this year has been the way that society has started to reevaluate the power and impact that tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter have on the world. As a society, we’ve been evaluating the impact that these companies have at an “individual-level” on factors such as mental health, as well as the impact they have on politics and the rise of fake news at a societal level. 

We’ve seen governments asking these tech giants to take responsibility for the way their platforms are used and for the repercussions that they have had on all of us. As a mother of two young kids, who will grow up to use these platforms, I’m really happy with where the conversation is going. I hope we will continue to find ways to mitigate these issues so we can all benefit from the good things social media provides!

2. AI Mind Writing

Liam Fisher – Head of Digital (Father of Gabriel, 7 & Audrey, 2 months old)

This was an amazing feat in harnessing the power of imagination and technology, giving people who are seemingly “locked-in” the chance to communicate. From someone who has seen first hand how devastating such neurological conditions are to families around the world, I believe this will help the healing process when such a tragedy occurs and allow brilliant minds to carry on!

3. Meaningful Tech & Arcade Coder

Daniel Hirschmann – CPO and Co-founder (Dad to Ash, 8 and Apollo, 8 months old)

The last year has been full of interesting and challenging questions around our relationship with technology, the time we commit to it, the consumption of media through it, the connectivity of things to things, and things to us.

These questions then become more focused when we think about how we should best introduce tech experiences to our kids. Is that channel age appropriate? (and what is age appropriate?!) Can I trust that platform or this content? How much screen time is too much? What is actually considered to be screen time? And perhaps one of the most important: how do I help to prepare my kids for their tech driven futures in a way that is most wholesome and inclusive?

These questions are a massive part of the motivation for creating our product the Arcade Coder. We wanted to encourage kids to think about how their time spent on technology can be fun, creative and shareable with their family and friends.  

The Arcade Coder addresses these questions in so many different ways. Firstly, it introduces kids  to arcade games from their parents’ era, (something for the family to reminisce or chat about). All of these games can then be altered by kids (speed the game up, change the colours etc.) giving them an intro to how games are designed. 

The Arcade Coder then builds on this by taking kids through step by step projects which teach them to make pixel art which they then programme to make their own games. Throughout the tutorials kids are methodically introduced to game mechanics & block coding. They use their iPad to program their physical Arcade Coder, in order to play games on their own, or better yet, with their friends and families.

Creating games is such a brilliant convergence of many incredibly powerful digital and behavioural skills. By giving kids the objective of creating a game that can be played with others, these skills are learnt “by the way”, as a part of the fun process of getting to their goal.

We have seen the results! After using the Arcade Coder, kids are able to connect all the dots, and understand how the things they make in the physical world can be controlled by programming in the digital world. They see how this can result in a game they can play with others (and they can show off how they made it too!)

There are too few of these kinds of technology experiences for our kids. Experiences that effectively merge the physical and digital for the sake of more meaningful experiences with their friends IN the physical world.

So with this in mind, the Arcade Coder provides  trusted, fun and engaging experiences for my kids. Experiences that use a screen but  don’t really behave as screen time and that convince them to be social with the outcomes of their gaming inventions in the real world. Seeing this happen with my own kids is 100% my Tech Moment of 2019!

4. The world wide wellness a-woke-ening

Oliver Claxton – Sales Director EMEA (Uncle to many)

The challenges of social media and the stresses of modern life have been a huge topic of conversation in 2019. Mental wellness has never been as openly discussed as it has been this year! 

This has been epitomised by the significant rise of wellness apps such as Calm, Headspace & Breathe. We often discuss tech’s contribution to the pressures of modern life so it’s super positive to see the way that tech can help to counteract this as well! 

Plus, the growth of meditation apps for children, such as Headspace for Kids, means that we can start to equip kids with the tools to manage their emotions and to help them learn to unwind from an early age!

Kits mentioned in this blog