One of Lenovo’s biggest growth segments is in the eight to 12-year-old segment and this has to do with children’s demand for touch devices. GRAHAM BRAUM, General Manager of Lenovo Africa explores why children are so drawn to these devices.
Renowned educator, Maria Montessori once said, “The hands are the instruments of a man’s intelligence.” Given that she lived around the turn of the 20th Century, it’s safe to assume she wasn’t referring to using one’s hands as the instruments with which to operate touch screens. However, as touch technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous in our lives, and even more so in the lives of our children, it is worth exploring why children are so drawn to it and the impact it has on their intelligence – both academic and social – as well as their safety.
At Lenovo, one of our biggest growth has been among the eight to 12-year-old segment and I believe this is driven by children’s demand for touch screens. Michael Cohen of UK research consultancy, the Michael Cohen Group says the rise of the touch screen has been incredible – the most rapid introduction of a technology he has witnessed. His research found that in the UK more than two thirds of children live in homes with smartphones, and just over half have access to tablets. They also increasingly have their own device. Of course, African figures are likely to differ slightly, but given the significant mobile penetration and the constant development of affordable technology across the continent, it makes sense that we will follow this trend.
The question is why children are so drawn to this technology. Besides that as digital natives they incorporate digital technologies into their lives with ease, the answer is that touch screens in particular are intuitive. Using a mouse or a remote control is a symbolic action and young children might need to be shown the connection between what they are doing with their hands and what is happening on the screen. A touch screen makes this connection obvious – a gesture results in logical action; swipe to the right and whatever is on the screen moves in the same direction.
The ease with which children use touch screens means they enjoy a variety of online activities, from watching videos and playing games, to searching for information, doing their homework and socialising. A study by the London School of Economics and Political Science quotes research which found that apart from the obvious enjoyment children experience will partaking in these activities, this engagement also helps to develop digital literacy, as well as support future academic achievement and social interaction.
Of course, there is some trepidation among parents related to their children’s lack of skills to assess the risk associated with interacting online, and what they may be exposed to. There is also the fear that children may become addicted to the virtual worlds they interact with, impacting on how they function as part of a family, with their peers or in broader society.
However, authors of “Tech-Savvy Parenting”, Nikki Bush and Arthur Goldstuck believe that these risks can be curbed by active parenting, which starts by learning about the technology your children are using and how to keep them safe. It also involves thinking about how to assimilate this technology into family life while keeping the family at the centre. She suggests that technology shouldn’t be an alternative to family time, but is instead a useful tool to up skill our children to be resourceful and resilient in the future.
There is no denying that children’s lives are filled with media and technology at younger and younger ages and the uptake is rapidly increasing. The growth of the eight- to 12-year-old segment in our business is evident of that. With this in mind, it makes sense to think about what technology like touch screens can offer them and how to mediate screen time not to cut it down as much as leverage its benefits.
Money talks and electronic gaming evolves
Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.
The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.
The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games.
It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.
MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.
“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”
New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.
“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”
Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.
A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.
Each block stores:
– A number of valid records or transactions.
– Information referring to that block.
– A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.
Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.
As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
How is blockchain so secure?
Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.
Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.
In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.
What else can blockchain be used for?
Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.
Use of blockchain in healthcare
Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.
Use of blockchain for documents
Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.
Other blockchain uses
This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.
Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.
Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.