Long gone are the days where a few stuffed animals, a few dolls or a few trucks and a set of blocks would be the basic toys a child would have in their room. Today the average child’s room will have these things plus at least two or three electronic toys whether they be for play only or for educational play.
Today, toys are not just for fun. There is a growing emphasis on starting children to learn just a few months after they are born. A doll was once something simple and cute for a child to hold. Now, dolls can talk, eat and go to the bathroom. Teddy bears used to be just a cuddly friend. Now some teddy bears have become teaches. For many years, educational toys meant blocks, beads, puzzles, and balls. These toys help kids learn about color, shape, and numbers by allowing children to explore the concepts of bigger and smaller, more and fewer. But that was “yesterday”.
Today, toys that usually don’t have a typical connection to technology are newly wired. There is a new generation of stuffed animals and dolls that are now tied to internet sites so that children can cuddle and dress them one minute, and then go online to social-network them the next minute.
Over the past five years there has been a siginifigant increase in the number of technology enabled toys available to children that make the original Tickle Me Elmo and Baby Born look like ancient relics. Kids have become key consumers, so it is only natural that children’s toys would move with the same pace as adult technology.
Some parents as well as some in the educational field, may feel that with so much technology a child does not have the opportunity to truly be creative. It seems that everything is either already done for them or is easily done by pushing a few buttons. Years ago preschool and kindergarten were mostly about play. Today parents expect their child’s daycare to have at least two or three computers along with a good curriculum for learning.
Some toys may be educational, but what do kids think of these toys? “Many who have studied children and toy technology, say that kids have a real fascination with new technology. When engaged in creative play with technologically enhanced toys they can learn and have fun. While that may be true, the question is – are they really having more fun than other children did before all this new toy technology, or have they just been “programmed” that way?