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Smart toys – especially wearable technology for kids – are at the top of the list of toy trends this holiday season. As with all new digital trends, we know parents are looking for guidance on how to navigate this new space. It can be daunting for parents to figure out how to make the right choices for their kids when it comes to such new tech devices. Sara DeWitt, Vice President of PBS KIDS Digital, has five tips to help.

1. Determine the purpose. Consider why you’d like your child to have the wearable. Is it to help him or her get active? Is it for educational purposes? Is it so you can keep tabs on where your child is? Then, evaluate the wearable to determine whether it meets that goal. What are you hoping your child can get out of it, and what are you hoping you can get out of it?

2. Find the right fit for your child. When you’re evaluating wearables, think about what would be the best fit for your child’s age and developmental stage. Also, think about what other devices might be required to use the wearable – such as smart phones or tablets – and make sure your child has access to and is comfortable using them.

3. It’s all about content. As with any tech device, the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re thinking about wearables is the content that can be played using them. Look for apps and activities that tap into your kids’ interests and help get them excited about learning. Media should engage kids and spark their curiosity about the world around them.

4. Play together. Wearables offer another opportunity to play and explore with your child. Talking with kids about the game or activity as you play together offers both the opportunity to bond as a family and also identify teachable moments.

5. Be mindful of privacy and tracking. Just as you would for any electronic device you let your kids use, make sure you pay really close attention to the fine print and privacy policy for wearables. Think about what the device might be tracking, what data is being collected and whether it’s marketing more products to your child.

About Sara DeWitt

As Vice President of PBS KIDS Digital, Sara DeWitt leads innovative strategies to build connected and immersive educational experiences for kids across media platforms, including the Kidscreen- and Webby-award winning pbskids.org. DeWitt has led the extension of PBS KIDS content into new frontiers – from mobile apps and interactive whiteboard games, to wearable tech and 3D-rendered gaming experiences. Having joined PBS in 1999, DeWitt has worked with the PBS KIDS producer family on a variety of award-winning television program sites, such as CURIOUS GEORGE, SUPER WHY, ARTHUR, and WORDGIRL. She holds both a BA and an MA in English from Stanford University, and a certificate from Stanford’s Children, Society, and Public Policy program.

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