In days gone by, entertainment for children on long car journeys would consist of drawn-out games of ‘I-Spy’ or – if they were lucky – a book or portable games device. As those with kids will likely agree, these tried and tested boredom-averters no longer cut it, with tablet computers and smartphones now the norm.
Mobile phone network EE has cottoned on to this need to be connected while on the move and has launched what it claims is the first gadget to offer WiFi Internet for your car.
Using the brand’s fast 4G data network, the slim-line dongle, named Buzzard, allows for up to ten portable devices to be connected to the web simultaneously.
"We're trying to open up the car as a place where you can experience connectivity, principally for parents with children who are currently squabbling over an iPad and watching a video on the back seat."
It’s been created for use specifically in cars, and comes in a protective case of the same dimension as a drinks can, so it can be readily placed in a vehicle’s cup-holder. It also takes power from a cigarette lighter adapter rather than needing a conventional three-pin outlet.
EE spokesperson Pippa Dunn said: "We're trying to open up the car as a place where you can experience connectivity, principally for parents with children who are currently squabbling over an iPad and watching a video on the back seat,” reported The Telegraph.
"The kids that I know, their biggest complaint is that they want to post to Facebook and Instagram but can't when they're in the car. So we want to open that up."
And it seems Parents could do with some respite from bored kids in the car. Research conducted by Motors.co.uk suggests that the majority of parents are distracted from driving by their children arguing or throwing items around the cabin. Worryingly, over a quarter or parents surveyed caught their children either trying to open the door or leaning out of the window while the car was in motion.
Currently, over half of drivers with children will use the stereo to quell frustrated behaviour, though a significant number (32 per cent) are turning to tablet computers and other hand-held Internet-ready gadgets.
The Buzzard dongle – which has been launched alongside a range of other mobile Internet devices – comes as EE, now the largest 4G network in the UK, completes the second phase of building its new network, with 3 million more people in smaller towns now able to access faster data services via 4G. The company is now focusing on increasing connectivity on transport links, including major roads and railways.
Do you have problems keeping your kids entertained on car journeys? Would you buy the new EE Buzzard? Have your say below.