Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thursday Toys

I feel I am out of touch with what toys kids play with today. My two have grown up to be stellar adults (no bragging here) and it has been a very long time since I last observed what toys are popular today. So I did some research and this is what I found out.  Kids don’t want toys anymore. They want robots and computers. Here is a few of these tech-based toys that leave imagination at the doorstep.

The Kiddizoom Smart Watch they wear on their wrist that offers games, an alarm, and even a camera that takes and edits photos and records videos. I am sure this watch won’t be worn to school.

You know how kids are always scarred about the monster under their bed? Well, this toy gives a whole new identity for that monster. It is called Xeno, an interactive monster that can display more than 40 different expressions through its animated LCD eyes (scary) has a pull-out snot dripping from its nose (lovely) and can fart to order. (What’s that smell?) I have no words for this one.

Remember when dolls were quit, quite until you made the crying noise. With this new doll, the child needs no imagination at all. She is called My Friend Cayla, and after you read what she can do, I would not want a friend like her. She is an interactive doll that syncs with an Android or iOS device through Bluetooth and understands speech through voice-recognition technology. Questions put to her will be searched online through the paired device’s internet connection, and she will respond by talking the answer. Should a parent worry about what Cayla might say? Oh no! The parent can rest assured that many pre-defined bad words or subjects are blocked through a dedicated app that can unlock different terms as a child ages, such as age-specific sexual educational topics. And what exactly does the child do? Nothing, because Cayla also plays games, tell stories and discusses photos. Discuss photos? I fear what these toys manufacturers will think of next. Oh, they already have. I read that amid huge strides to make toys “non-gender specific,” children simply make up their own minds about what they wanted. What is wrong with gender-specific toys? It must be a generational hang up.

The way we played, our imaginations fired up the toys. We did not need some iOS device or LCD to light up the toy’s eyes. The simplicity of our toys asked or required the child to invest a lot of imagination in playing with them. There was a poignancy in that simplicity. Modern games can be complex and spell out lots of details for children to observe, but toys like a dollhouse, bike, building blocks, and paper dolls, teach instead of merely entertain. A sad point to highlight here is how many toys were meant to be played out in the fresh air while today’s children are very likely to be indoors.
Our family museum is filed with toys. While growing up both my husband and I had only a few toys, but they were well made and played with, and gave us the tools in which develop the skills we have today. What skills are these high-tech toys giving children today? If you know, I would enjoy knowing it.
When next you have a child visit your family museum, take some time to show them what a good toys is. Encourage them to use their imagination. Better yet, give them some paper and a pencil. That is by far still the best toy to play with.

Next Post:  Friday Feature


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