I’m not one of those people who thinks that texting and tweeting is ruining children’s ability to communicate. Texting and tweeting are the future of communication, so if kids are learning to keep it concise or feel more comfortable sending a text to their crush than making a call, I’m all for it. That’s not to say that this communication should be at the expense of all personal real-life interaction, but it doesn’t mean that the kids themselves are becoming dumb because they can keep a tweet under 140 characters.
The technology companies are providing kids for this communication, on the other hand, is certainly becoming dumb. Take these Text Bands, for example. Hallmark thinks that they can lure kids into typing 10-character messages with the help of three buttons in a situation where messages can only be sent by a fist-bump or high-five.
These are $15 wristbands, meaning that all the specs, including wireless, are severely limited. That means that transmissions only work if the two bands are within a foot of each other. Past that, kids have to scroll through each letter of the alphabet using a three-button menu until they’ve filled out their message, with 10 characters max.
The issue is that most kids have evolved far beyond this type of gimmicky product. I’m sure a few of them will realize that Text Bands may be good for telling a friend a secret in a crowd, but so is a cell phone text. Two-year olds sit down with an iPad and understand it almost immediately. Small children can usually figure out how to make a phone call or open up an app if you hand them your phone, even if they can’t read.
So to think that a kid, even a small one, would be satisfied with this is a joke. Text Bands are a toy and nothing more, and in a world where kids are getting cell phones and smartphones at relatively young ages, there is really no place for something so cheap and useless.