This Christmas many children (if they have been good) are going to be waking up on the big day to the newest toys on the market. WiFi related toys are in line for being amongst those at the top of children’s Christmas wish lists.
The elves, it seems, are very busy making Cayla dolls ready to pack Santa’s sleigh. The ‘My Friend Cayla’ doll uses speech-to-text technology to ‘Google’ questions. Parents need not worry about what they will search for, as unsuitable content has been filtered out by Google’s SafeSearch technology. Cayla can answer a plethora of questions when she is synced via WiFi, from geography and science to pop quizzes and general knowledge. Hopefully they won’t ask if Santa is real! But if they do – and we tested this – Siri replies ‘I’m surprised you have to ask’.
Walking in a WiFi wonderland
Leapfrog’s LeapTV, a gaming system that includes WiFi and a camera, is being heralded as a perfect pre-school companion to help with educational essentials; reading, writing, maths, science and social studies.
Innotabs, a kind of iPad for kids, are still a popular request and are now on their third edition. The Innotab 3S allows children to download apps and sync content wirelessly. It also has text-messaging features that enable kids to communicate with parents on their smart phone.
What more could any child aged around 3 to 9 want from Santa on Christmas day? For some children, Innotabs actually just aren’t good enough and depending on their age, they are likely to see them as ‘babyish’. Some school age children are already asking for the latest iPad to download their games and apps on; some are even asking for a Raspberry Pi!
What’s a Raspberry Pi you say? It’s a (very educational) credit card-sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard. It enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. It’s able to do everything a desktop computer can do, such as internet browsing, playing videos, word-processing, and playing games.
The best sellers from the last few years continue to be popular
Other high tech gadgets such as iPods, tablets and similar handheld devices continue to be a popular request. However, sales of tablets are starting to be overtaken by requests for smartphones and laptops on older children’s Christmas lists. And also the request many parents may come to dread – a Google Glass, which comes in at a hefty £1000! Thankfully you have to be over 18 to use one.
Digital play is here to stay
Xeno is a ‘cute’ little monster who loves to play, but he needs some looking after as he sleeps, or he can get ill. Unlike the tamagotchi, in which the pet could “die” due to poor care, old age or sickness, Xeno is perhaps easier to look after as he will only fall asleep if you continue to ignore him – but watch out, he might snore. He also dances and plays lots of games. Xeno is sold with a free smartphone app that helps to bring him to life and add another dimension of play. However, he isn’t cheap to buy at £89.99.
Of course, there are going to be children who only have one thing on their Christmas list – a new game console. Some won’t be able to resist the latest XBox One or Playstation 4 and all the new games that go with them. A massive appeal to some gamers is interactive playing with other like minded people over WiFi.
So, should we be getting our kids these high tech toys?
With all the tech toys on the market, it seems difficult to avoid at least one tech gift for our children, whatever their age. Indeed, many parents are now worrying that they are going to leave their children behind if they don’t get them some of the interactive gadgets on the list this Christmas.
Some online games were so successful last year that they have created a range of physical toys to go with them. For example, Minecraft has been a phenomenal success and it is a game about placing blocks or building structures to protect against nocturnal monsters. As the game grows, the players can use creativity and imagination to make wonderful things. The ‘real’ Minecraft toys enable children to build the block physically should they wish to do so. Some of us parents think that Minecraft is ‘MindNumbing’; we still like our kids to play with good old Lego and things we are more familiar with.
Our thoughts on the matter
Technological and WiFi enabled toys are definitely here to stay and we for one are going to embrace them. We know that that children should still play with traditional toys, should socialise properly and play outside as well. We also know that we should set sensible limits on kids’ time with technology (see our blog on technology and the next generation).
However, we have to tell ourselves that any kind of creativity is good, be it coding, creating animation or building with Minecraft blocks. Who are we to argue?
So from us, we wish you all a Merry Mobile Christmas and an Interactive New Year.