Where the four-lane Seestrasse and the noisy Müllerstrasse intersect in Berlin's Wedding district is the Alhambra with its gigantic cinema poster front. Every child in the district knows it - and is always happy to stop in front of it in amazement. The Alhambra is one of those cineplex cinemas that can be found everywhere in Germany's big and small cities, check-in halls for the masses that rarely come nowadays. Today the cinema has to bang its drums to make it worthwhile to operate. The pandemic has done the rest.
But now the house was full. All first graders were invited to the start of school: "Hello first graders and I-Dötzchen!" it said on an invitation, on which a girl sped off on an old Vespa with a school door into the supposed school freedom: "You can get yours in our cinemas Have the school cone refilled with gifts from our partners. Come to our cinemas on the specified date! We look forward to seeing you and thank our partners who are there for you and us even in difficult times! Your cinemaplex.”
The parents thought nothing of it. On the contrary: a cinema chain that takes care of the children in "hard times". "Partners" participating. One counted on sweets and all sorts. But some parents already knew more: There would be Lego, it was promised. When we got back home, an amazing picture emerged: next to Lego, a smartwatch worth at least 100 euros appeared: the “Kids Watch XPLORA”.
The Norwegian company XPLORA is pushing with all its might into the German market - and onto the wrists of schoolchildren. The speed with which you have already established yourself in other European countries makes you sit up and take notice.
Because the company pretends to only bring good things. Yes, to protect the parents from something threatening: the big mobile phone issue. She comes earlier and earlier: "When will I get a cell phone?" That's no surprise: we set an example for them, today nothing works without a cell phone. So the question is more than understandable. But does a smartwatch really help?
Advertising for the watches, which no longer deserve the name, has been everywhere for weeks, in the children's magazine "Geolino", at Telekom, at Tchibo. But how do you reach as many parents and students as possible? Almost at the same time, always at the start of school in the respective federal state, the "Kids Watch XPLORA" are now sunk in school cones in 67 cities, 67 cineplex cinemas - from Aachen to Vilsbiburg.
In just a matter of weeks, the watch has appeared on the kids' horizons and wish-lists for the kids who haven't gotten it along the way - it's the latest have-to-be. It's like a Paw Patrol dream come true for the kids. In the Canadian series, the furry friends are always connected to the boy Ryder via a device and draw their appreciation from the technology, which they can always use cleverly, among other things.
And the parents? In Berlin, they actually seemed to believe the myth that the watch could save them from buying a mobile phone early and not have to burden their children additionally: The watches are harmless, the children can use them to count their steps and play, they say, and they can phone, make emergency calls. One prefers to remain silent about the location function.
Hardly anyone asks what to get the children used to from an early age. And who actually saves what here? Is it really about stopping the kids from wishing for a cell phone? The parents themselves want this watch. It is a hasty surrender to one's own fears, albeit – as always in the age of digital familiarity – a very human one. Because the main function is the GPS, the location of the little ones at any time, in real time.
But this tool not only reduces the development of the parent's ability to trust. Instead, it cuts off an important learning process for the children on the first day of school, namely to feel safe in the world without parents, without any technical connection. Denial of this experience could well be a momentous loss - for a lifetime. Because it takes quite a bit of effort to get rid of this habit – why should it?
Is this concern overdone? It is a worry that cannot be resolved because society is slowly but steadily becoming more and more accustomed to constant surveillance in our lives, which is also so practical and reduces fears and can save lives in an emergency. But dealing with it could be more honest. No cell phone discussion is delayed here, an additional tool is introduced here that has not even really caught on with adults. There, too, the companies have to come up with something to turn them into users. Now you start with the little ones.
The families got along wonderfully well without a smartwatch. Today, children who have to walk a long way to school are shown how they can use an old mobile phone without internet in an emergency, how they can help themselves. The watch on the wrist with constant monitoring from the parents' mobile phone is simply an early conditioning for the market, in order to secure the child as a customer for the self-optimization madness of the adults right from the start. A brilliant coup, then, to give away the watches and not wait until the parents have overcome their reservations. And for the teachers, the smartwatches now mean in elementary school that they have to deal with all the technology that makes concentrated school lessons more difficult.
Anyone who has ever seen grown-ups jump up at a cozy dinner because their cell phone told them they still had to take a few steps, or observed the nervous looks of someone opposite who kept checking the new emails on the smartwatch during a conversation thrown cannot seriously wish that our children get used to it. Almost without exception, adults willingly share their movement profile with Apple and Samsung and Co. Up to now, small children have not been accessible to the data market. That seems to be over now.