Toys and Technology are perfect partners. Children will always be fascinated by technology: they love anything which brings a new dimension to play. Their enquiring minds are hungry to learn, and they love to be entertained. When there is a successful marriage of toys and technology, it can achieve all these things.
The fascination with technology starts at an early age: children love to imitate their parents, so products which allow them to role play and copy their mother, father or older sibling gives them the perfect opportunity to start to make sense of the world around them. The integration of technology into educational items has proved to be a particularly successful move for a number of toy companies: the best products make learning such fun that it often means children are learning without being aware of it. It has also allowed some toys to become more accessible to children with learning difficulties and special needs.
Children are fast learners when it comes to new technology. It has become second nature to this new generation: they are exposed to technology from a very early age, and they are confident and comfortable with it. They continue to be mesmerized by technology throughout their childhood, and some would say that this enthusiasm never stops; show me an adult who isn’t attached to their phone or tablet, or who doesn’t love to own the latest gadgets. By the time they reach school, children are just imitating their parents; they are learning valuable life skills, as technology plays such an integral role in everyone’s day-to-day life.
From a toy industry perspective, it is important to give children products which they will want to play with. Integrating the latest technological developments into toys is a way of delivering the experience children are looking for, and ensuring that they continue to stay within the toy market for a little longer. It allows toy companies to offer the best possible play value, and keeps their products contemporary and relevant. Every year, tech toys have a strong presence in the top selling toy charts across the globe. Whether it be a children’s computer or tablet, an interactive robot or animal, or toys that literally come to life as a part of a computer game, there is huge global demand for these products which shows no sign of slowing down. As for the future, there are truly no limits to where this sector can go. As new technological developments are introduces, it is inevitable that in time they will be integrated into toy ranges. By using the latest, cutting edge technology, toys are keeping pace with the real world, and delivering the best possible consumer experience – which is vital if the industry is to remain vibrant and profitable.
Of course, there is another side to Tech Toys debate: some people are concerned that spending too much time with TechToys will have an adverse impact on the development of some children. There is also a concern that as sales of TechToys rise, sales of traditional toys may decline. Whilst it is true that parents have to be careful to limit screen time for younger children, I believe it all comes down to a question of balance. There is no reason that a child cannot enjoy both – traditional and TechToys: toys from each category offer different opportunities for learning, discovery and fun. In my opinion, it is not a question of whether a parent should choose either traditional or TechToys: a child’s toy box can encompass products from both camps, so they get the best of both worlds.
John Baulch, has over 30 years experience of working in the toy trade press.In 2011 he set up his own toy magazine, Toy World, which has established itself as the leading UK toy magazine, renowned for having its finger on the pulse of the vibrant, fast-moving toy industry.