This Generation of Tech Kids

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It struck me after attending DX3 Canada, a digital marketing and retail trade show, that the world my son will grow up in will be vastly different than the one I did. And even the one today.

Let me back up a bit. This revelation didn’t just hit me now. After all, my son was practically manipulating an iPhone with ease from within the womb! But looking at the futuristic ways the retail landscape is changing really tells me how the whole idea of hanging out at the mall with his friends, going out for a beer, or socializing, will be vastly different.

For the past few days, I’ve looked at the many ways that smartphones will (and already are) integrated into the shopping experience. The best way to describe this is to think back to the Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report. Remember the scene where he walks through the wall, and various marketing and advertising messages pop up as he passes by, recognizing him and pushing offers, deals, anything to him to get his attention?

That’s the idea, albeit not as invasive. It’ll all be permission-based, and customers can opt out simply by turning Bluetooth off on their phone. But already, there are sensors, apps, Wi-Fi-enabled systems, that can track when you walk into a store, who you are, what you last purchased, where you are, and send personalized offers. I know that’s Christine. She just bought a pair of jeans last week. She might like this new belt that just came in. Or I know she has a Keurig single cup coffee maker, so let’s send her a coupon for 20% of K-cups while she’s here.

It’s a crazy idea. Browsing in a store may be a thing of the past by the time my 2-year-old reaches teenage-dom. What will he and his friends do, other than communicate via the social media Website du jour and play video games? Will he have the social skills necessary for basic human interaction? Will anyone?

I can’t help but picture this Brave New World, with a splash of Minority Report and dash of iRobot thrown in. The retail experience is just the beginning.

That said, I don’t think it’s a good idea for parents to try to shelter their kids from those high-tech gadgets that are in abundance today. Let them use smartphones. Let them get familiar with tablets. Let them show you how to use the PVR, and program the universal remote, and set up an online profile. These are skills that are just as essential today as learning to use a computer and the Internet were in my school days.

It’s a brave new world we live in, indeed.

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