Here's a question for you - when was the last time your kids begged you to play a board game? Or with a construction set, a play-set, or any other traditional toy?
Now, when was the last time your kids begged you for five minutes with an iPad, smartphone or any other mobile device?
Whether we like it or not, these new devices are capturing children’s interest and motivation to play, which accordingly takes up somewhat of the traditional play time. This is the new world.
Most children love traditional toys as well, it’s just easier to tap a button.
There’s a widespread debate about the new tech toys - whether kids are having too much screen time or if it’s detrimental to their development.
Each household deals with this differently, and while almost no one will stop their kids from playing with traditional toys, there’s a second thought when handing over an iPad. Balancing play and making sure kids get a healthy ‘diet’ of both traditional and tech toys is extremely important.
However, I want to raise another option - how about we give our kids new experiences that capture the best of both worlds.
Take dexterity and add interactive puzzles, enjoy engaging games while still moving real toys around. Today’s technological advancements open up so many possibilities to create innovative experiences.
Of course, I’m not the only one who’s thought of this, but I believe that the real problem today is that too many toy makers that have decided to take the plunge into making digitally enhanced toys, don’t really look to enhance the existing traditional gameplay.
A lot use the mobile device to just replace an existing feature in the card or board game for example, which could have been played exactly the same without the device.
Even more disturbing are examples of toys and games that not only don’t add to the traditional fun experience, but push more digital content that is consumed during gameplay - ‘tech bait’ if you will.
I believe that the way kids play is ever evolving, and the world around us is moving forward. Our task is to make sure that it’s evolving the right way.
For toy makers, it’s to create meaningful interactions, and not rely on the inherently fun and easy features of the new devices.
For parents, it’s to make sure they get the best toys for their kids, whether they’re digitally enhanced or just some good old fun.
Yoav Dori is the CEO and co-founder of Stui, a toy firm committed to creating innovative experiences that combine the physical and digital worlds. Contact him at Hello@stui.co.