I've just taken my bored nearly-teen on a guided tour – and he actually enjoyed it. A shock, considering his refusal to do anything organised or educational on the grounds that it's "totally uncool".

Guided tours no longer involve being herded around by umbrella-toting boffins: these days, if you've got an MP3 player, you're laughing. And the kids love it: you just plug your little darlings in and off they go.

Leaders in this digital revolution include WalkTalk Tours ( walktalktour.com) and Soundmap ( soundmap.co.uk). The latter specialises in anecdotal guides to London: child-friendly downloadable routes narrated by local experts and featuring music, history and chats. Look out for its special walking tour of Brixton for the next Black History Month.

Visit Bristol ( visitbristol.co.uk) is down with the kids, too: it has just commissioned a brand new walking tour which describes the impact of the Atlantic slave trade on the city, geared for children and adults alike. But the age of the human tour guide is far from over. Real people are giving the chip a run for its money, with new tours for kids springing up all over the place.

Visit Eastbourne before the autumn, for example, and they can tour the streets with The Jester ( thetourjester.co.uk), a quirky character who'll tell them everything they ever needed to know about the city. And he dresses in bright pink, so you can't miss him. How's that for street cred?