By Reyne Rice, Toy Trend Expert and Youth Market Specialist
First posted on the YourToyCom.com blog forum and community website serving the toys, games and childrens’ technology industries, on behalf of the Spielwarenmesse. Spielwarenmesse is the leading and largest International ToyFair in the world, held annually in Nuremberg, Germany in early February.
Today’s kids are naturally drawn to new technology, and are quite comfortable using interactive and digital media tools. They love taking photos, uploading their photo albums or movies, and sharing what they have learned with their friends, family and classmates. In fact, as part of their 21st century learning, middle school and teen students today are required to use computer skills to complete their homework assignments and their team projects. They need to learn how to use the internet to research for science assignments, write documents or post photos of their work.
Multiple toy manufacturers have created products designed to allow even younger children to play with digital technology, including Vtech, Leapfrog and Fisher Price with digital cameras, digital video cameras and tablet computers that have some of these opportunities built into the play pattern. New examples include tablets such as Leapfrog’s LeapPad, VTech’s Storio 2, a Hello Kitty tablet version by Sakar Electronics, and the Kurio, by a French manufacturer, Cidetoys. All provide children hands-on experience with computer skills and allow them to learn while they are playing.
While kids are having fun with these projects, they are also gaining digital proficiencies including learning basic skills such as colors, numbers and shapes and also to manage multi-tasking, play strategic games, and to solve problems both individually and in teams.
By engaging in a variety of both on-screen and off-screen activities, kids are learning to use a variety of tools for life. Parents also encourage kids to engage in offline, off-screen activities and this has spawned a wealth of new toy development in competitive sports products, hands-on building and experimentation, racing and radio control activities. When partnered with the new digital skill sets that kids are naturally drawn towards, this combination provides a balanced approach to the whole child, whole body-and-whole-brain development.