Like every other industry, toy makers are doing whatever they can to make sure their products appeal to kids growing up in the generation of technology. Simple blocks, crayons and coloring books, and stuffed animals just aren’t cutting it anymore. Pairing traditional toys with technology, like Hot Wheels and their virtual tracks, is just one example of how toy makers are trying to merge two worlds.
Last year there were about 90 million apps downloaded and 900 billion hours spent on these apps. While initial thoughts might go to things like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat – they were in the top five most downloaded apps of the year – what’s more interesting is that games generated the most money in 2016.
App-based toys or toys that require technology for full functionality are some of the most sought after toys of the time. They merge the real-world with technology in a way that makes many parents forget to ban their use when technology is limited. These toys are using kids’ real-life senses and their dexterity, they’re supporting and helping to cultivate their social and intellectual development.
For parents who want to make sure their kids are caught up with technology, but still engaging in good, old fashioned play, these are a great place to start.
Ozobot 2.0 Bit
This is one of the smallest robots meant to teach kids coding and STEM. The Ozobot is just over one inch and can dance and race, all while kids play through in-app games or from activities from the Ozobot site. Not only will kids be using the robot and app activities, but they can draw, with pen and paper, for the sensors to respond to by spinning or speeding up. A cool afternoon activity can start with a long, white piece of paper along the floor. Kids use colored markers to draw a map and OzoCode follows the path.
Piper Computer Kit
The Piper Computer Kit is another great STEM and coding toy for kids. It’s the perfect opportunity to tinker around in something that is usually out of reach. After creation it becomes a fully functional computer with a custom edition of Minecraft that runs on wifi. Engineering, physical building, programming and play all in one handcrafted wooden computer case. This one has even been endorsed by some of the world’s great inventors – Steve Wozniak, anyone?
These colorful tiles are perfect for the littlest kids. Magnetic tiles snap together to teach spatial relationships, math, logic, and problem-solving, all through creative building opportunities. The Magna-Tiles come in different piece sets, 32, 48, and 100 pieces (and everything in between and beyond) so novice or expert builders can each find the perfect set. Yes, it can filed under another STEM activity, but it’s the latest and greatest in building blocks.
Tech toys aren’t just for kids. Adults love them just as much, if not more. The DJI Phantom is great for the drone obsessed. There are GPS assisted flight plans, advanced camera perspectives, and fly it for up to a half hour at a time. One of the coolest features is being able to stream live images from up to a half mile away. It takes 2.7K HD videos and unparalleled photos, making it perfect for adventure seekers. But, feel secure in knowing that the Phantom will return in just the click of a button.