Virtual Counselor - TownSpeaks Technology

Virtual Counselor

Technology brings us to the age where communication and interaction have become more impersonal. Data moves at the speed of light, but what are some of the negatives associated with the age of technology? Have we forgotten the human equation as we hurtle into the future? Technology even provides us with solutions for personal well-being. Introducing the virtual counselor.

Virtual Counselor – The Power of Technology

What is the biggest detractor in technology? Is it the speed of information and the constant bombardment of input? Perhaps it is the onslaught of immediacy and how everyone expects everything right now. There is no delay in demand and it is only getting worse. Maybe it is that our bosses and colleagues, thanks to 24/7 connectivity, no longer show any boundaries when it comes to expectations. Whatever you define as the biggest drawback of technology, the one common aspect is that it makes our lives more impersonal. Enter the virtual counselor.

Millennials, along with members of generations past and future, have grown increasingly used to technology as the primary form of communication and they have become accustomed to the impersonal interaction of text and email. Interpersonal communication, including the subtle art of reading expression and inflection, is getting edged out by the phone and computer screen. The problem? We, as humans, are not built that way. We need interface. Enter the virtual counselor. If you would like to explore more about the role of technology in virtual counseling, there is an interesting article from the American Counseling Association – The Role of Technology in Counseling.

The Virtual Counselor – What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us

When we think of a virtual counselor, we think of someone online who can answer questions and help us navigate difficult or challenging emotional waters, but virtual counseling is much more than that. When you think of counseling, maybe you think of counseling for kids or marriage counseling. These are only two of areas that make up a vast online presence. Here is a brief list of the different types of counseling.

  • Marriage and Family
  • Guidance and Career
  • Rehabilitation
  • Mental Health
  • Substance Abuse
  • Educational
  • Debt counseling
  • Child development counseling
  • Eating disorder therapy
  • Grief counseling
  • Art therapy
  • Musical therapy

These are just a few areas of specialty, but what is unique is that each area now has a significant online presence. No matter what type of assistance you need, you can find it online. Now here is where it really gets interesting. Most of the online or virtual counselor listings you will find are to professionals you can find online. So really, many of the listings you find are simply listings to private or public practices or counselors.

The Truly Virtual Counselor

But where is technology taking us? The interaction between human and machine has become a dependent relationship between user and mechanism for transport. With Quantum Computing on the near horizon and our electronic volumes of interactive data, we are getting closer to an AI form, but we will never be able to truly create Artificial Intelligence. We cannot create a sentient being any more than we can create gravity. Maybe someday, but not yet.

What we can do right now however, is mimic human interaction and recreate responses that reflect what society considers a “correct” answer to almost any question that can be asked. So does this mean that search engines will become our virtual counselor? The solution will be some form of data construct that will provide answers to questions we have. Look at Siri who is even programmed to answer inane questions. Look at Google, Yahoo and the rest of the search engine platforms built to query through mountains of data almost instantaneously

To learn more about human and computer interface, there is an excellent read – Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction: Design for All and Accessibility Practice. You can learn where we are headed as a society and how our interface with computers and technology will evolve.

To artificial intelligence, we have a long way to go and it is doubtful that we will be able to recreate intelligence in our lifetime or lifetimes immediately following. We will continue to improve technology’s capability to respond based on recreated human response. Mimic is not a form of intelligence, though we will continue down that path because we are human.


Tablets For Kids

Some will argue that educational aids such as tablets for kids are not necessary for the development of our children. The opposite side will argue that these are necessary tools so that kids can get comfortable with technology at an early age. The truth is, they are both right.

There are lots of different sizes, shapes and makes when it comes to tablets for kids, but the question is whether these tools help a child acclimate to technology or is this too early an age to introduce technology as they are building their social skills and ability to interact with other young humans. In reality, we have to apply the rule of moderation. Tablets for kids are an invaluable tool for education when they are used in moderation.

Tablets for Kids – An Introduction to the World

Just like with anything else in a child’s life, educational tools should be used with parental interaction so that a parent can help the child become proficient. Another argument for the supervision is to moderate the time between social interaction and developing other skills. One of the biggest problems we have with children and technology is that the child can tend to get lost in technology. They can become so engrossed that they devote more and more time to technology at the expense of everything else and this can happen very easily.

That said, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. There are actually only a few studies that explore the trade-off between positives and negatives of tablets for kids. In every one, including a research study done by Jordy Kaufman, director of the BabyLab at Swinburne University in Melbourne, that explored toddler use of kid’s tablets to understand the impact.

Tablets for Kids – Supercharge Your Child’s Imagination

The result of this study along with virtually all other studies in this area is that tablets for kids are a great way to get children as young as toddlers to interact with technology and expand their imagination. With the explosion of apps for kids and educational tools available, children can explore and associate visually with the world outside of their direct environment. As a parent, you have to view tablets for kids as a supercharged toy that can expand the creativity and imagination of your child.

Tablets for Kids – A Comparison

Which one is the best one? There are a ton of choices to choose from. Here are a few of them. A couple of things to look for when you are purchasing tablets for kids are ease of use, ability to expand and features geared toward use from a child’s perspective. Here are some choices that we recommend. Once you find one that you like, be sure to look at the full description to find the kid’s tablet that is right for you and your child.

Amazon Fire Tablets for Kids

Amazon Fire Kids Edition - Tablets for Kids

Amazon Fire Kids Edition

Great Buy! From $99.99
The Amazon Fire Kids Edition scores high on the usability scale. Geared more for toddlers and up, this kid friendly tablet is still no slouch in computing power. This is not a toy. It is a full-featured Fire with 7″ display and a kid proof case.
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Amazon Fire 7″

Great Buy! From $49.99
Same great product as the Fire Kids Edition without the kid proof case. This edition of the Fire is great for saving money and if you want to buy a tablet as a crossover or shared unit between younger and older siblings.
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Samsung Galaxy Tab 4

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 - Tablets for Kids

Great Buy! From $139.86
Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 is more of a mainstream tablet, but it should be mention in this section because it is a great tablet for kids. Like the Amazon Fire 7, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 is a strong crossover between siblings and works well for young and old alike – including parents. The Tab 4 is just a well-rounded, solid piece of hardware that merits attention.
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Apple iPad Tablets for Kids

Apple iPad Mini Tablets for Kids

iPad Mini 2

Great Buy! From $239.86
The Apple iPad Mini 2 is a less expensive version of its newer sibling, the iPad Mini 4, but it has all of the features kids need and will save you money. Probably due to branding, this is the most popular version of kid’s tablet, but it is durable and full-featured so it gets a thumbs up from TownSpeaks.
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iPad Mini 4

Great Buy! From $239.86
iPad Mini 4 is the newest and greatest from the long line of Apple products. While the Mini 2 is comparable in features required in tables for kids, the Mini 4 is thinner, lighter and is in high demand mostly because it is newer. A lot of the other tablets have features just as good as the iPad Mini 2 and 4, but it is hard to beat the branding.
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You can also search other models available on Amazon. Just like there are a lot of great tablets for kids, buyer beware because there are a lot of back tables out there as well. If you are interested in finding out which tablets don’t quite cut it, just drop us a line and we will send you the list of tablets to avoid.

Find the tablet that is right for you.