As a result, the same smartphones and tablets that have transformed the way adults do business and network, are now also changing how the youth engage with learning tools and entertaining content.
Last year, a GSMA study that looked at Algeria, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia found that both 10 and 12 were the most common ages for children to first receive a mobile phone (#_ftn1). Of the children who have cell phones, on average 33 percent of them are smartphones. This number varies by country – ranging from 15 percent in Iraq to as high as 71 percent in Saudi Arabia.*
As children get their hands on connected products, whether their own or their parents, it is increasingly important to ensure their behavior on these devices is closely monitored, as they can be a gateway to sensitive stored data, social networking applications and the wider Internet.
According to the research conducted by the GSMA, the majority of parents in the region express concern about their children’s privacy when using mobile phones. Those concerns are, in part, validated by the research data, which found that 72 percent of children using social networking communicate with new ‘friends’ online. (http://#_ftn2)
Many technology titans are evolving along with this growing societal change. In response to the increasing number of children exploring connected products, Samsung has introduced ‘Kids Mode’ to mobile offerings like the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Tab S.
Kids Mode, released first in October 2013, enables parents to effortlessly turn the Galaxy Tab S tablet or Galaxy S5 smartphone they use for productivity and social networking into a child-friendly entertainment hub. It comes with pre-installed, child-friendly apps, including a camera app that allows kids to take photos and add fun cartoon effects like moustaches, fitting them in place thanks to face detection technology. There is also a video app that allows parents to add age-appropriate viewing materials, and a drawing app that allows younger users to freely express themselves.
In tune with the ever-changing online media environment, in July Samsung updated the Kids Store feature, which is available in Kids Mode, with 900 specially selected applications for children. New access to popular apps like LEGO, along with a range of other fun and educational apps allows parents to further enrich their children’s experiences on connected products.
While promoting fun and learning, this feature also helps parents keep their devices secure with the ability to designate certain data as prohibited. Activated and de-activated by a PIN number known only to the adults, Kids Mode ensures children do not access or erase sensitive material.
Based on research from MidEastMedia.Org, the majority of people with children in their homes agree that youth-oriented media helps kids become more creative, develop hand-eye coordination and even become more tolerant of other cultures.
Connected devices are a new avenue to access those kinds of media tools and activities, and we are likely to see child use continue to increase, irreversibly altering how generations to come expect to digest information. As security features, such as Kids Mode, are introduced to the market, parents will be able to provide a plethora of new media forms to their children with added peace of mind.
 (http://#_ftnref1) According to research conducted by the GSMA. Link to survey results.