Many of today’s parents have very few memories of asking for – and receiving – techie gifts for Christmas.
It was simply a different time, when we thought of these gadgets as nothing more than parlor entertainment – little more than toys. But we now live in an increasingly technological and digital age, where computers and gadgets are proving to be excellent tools in the education of younger children as well.
A report by Time Magazine showed that a whopping 33% of kids below two – and 72% of kids below eight – have already begun using smartphones and tablets, showcasing how technology has definitely become a huge part of the modern kid’s childhood. Of course, not all gadgets are appropriate for kids, and with reports showing that kids’ usage of these modern media is on the rise, It’s becoming increasingly important for us to only give our kids gadgets appropriate for their age.
This holiday season, you’re bound to be asked for some techie gifts and gadgets, and luckily, there are now many brands to choose from. Here’s a rundown of the Top 5 Tech Gifts you can give to kids this Christmas:
1. Toca Boca Apps
For those on a budget, it might be difficult to purchase a completely new gadget, but luckily there are plenty of apps already developed for gadgets families might already have at home. If the child you’re buying a gift for already has an iPad, then the Toca Boca series is a perfect choice. As preschool teacher and father James Ross tells childrenswear clothing designer Tootsa MacGinty, “There is a wealth of choice on the market these days, and different formats work for different children. The secret is for the children to be learning without realising it… there is a series of ‘games’ called Toca Boca which my daughter absolutely loves. They are simple, informative and gentle; children can play at being a chef, a vet, a fashion designer… and it helps hand-eye co-ordination whilst being fun at the same time.” Each installment of the Toca Boca series costs $2.99, and can all be bought through the iTunes App Store.
2. GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine
For a long time, people feared that kids were spending too much time watching television or movies, and not enough time actually making things. GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine, however, has set out to change this, allowing kids not just to watch movies, but to create their own movies as well. With the help of the toy, “Kids learn how to build a zoetrope, a pre-cinema animation device, while learning about illustration and animation,” and it even comes with a free iOS app that helps kids learn even more about the process of making films. The app, however, is not necessary to enjoy the toy, and vice versa. According to reviews by Amanda Bindel on Common Sense Media, “The sample movies are a delight to watch and will inspire kids to create their own. Though making movies is easy with the tools provided, the process requires enough effort and focus that kids will truly be proud of what they’ve created.”
Blending app usage and physical play, Tiggly has been a popular choice for many parents and guardians for years, especially as there are apps for just about any subject matter available. All you need to do is purchase the Tiggly toys and download the apps, and watch as activities and stories come to life. Tiggly makes use of the capacitive touch screen technology already found on our tablets, creating completely interactive activities that help kids learn about everything from math, to English, shapes, and colors. The toys also don’t require batteries or WiFi, and are guaranteed not to scratch the surfaces of tablets. As Lon Seidman says on Amazon, “Kids as young as my five month old daughter are drawn to tablet screens, and this product attempts to create a little more tactile interface that replicates how shape toys work in the non-virtual world.”
The child using markers to draw on walls might be a cliché, but Ozobot has found a way to bring this love for drawing with markers together with robotics! There are various Ozobot products to choose from, but for starters, the Ozobot Bit is a great choice: “Ozobot can see colors, follow lines and detect intersections on shapes you draw on paper and a digital screen. Twin micro-motors and a friction drivetrain deliver quiet and precise movements, while Ozobot’s sensors scan the surface for color variances – thus interpreting an actual code, created by your child.” The Ozobot system also comes with several activities and challenges that your kids are bound to enjoy, and once they get a little bit more familiar with the basics of coding, they can even join online challenges and create solutions to problems presented by the community.
5. Sphero Ollie
Kids who enjoy remote-controlled cars are sure to get a lot of enjoyment from Sphero Ollie, a little robot that can be controlled with your smartphone. While it’s designed to be a speed racer, it’s also capable of pulling off stunts and tricks, and is arguably the future of remote-controlled toys. “Tough on the outside. Smart on the inside. Ollie’s polycarbonate shell protects its engine while the robot’s design repels water. Drive it down the stairs, through the dirt, or straight into a wall. Ollie also has the brains to match its brawn. Onboard intelligence tracks distance, airtime, color preferences, trick combos, and more.” This one is better for older children, and if they have a bit of an interest in app development, Sphero also allows their customers to create custom apps and programs for use with the Ollie.
Products are available on Amazon.co.uk
Written by MomWrites
Although MomWrites had been working in the tech industry for years, she’d been resistant to the thought of allowing these technologies to penetrate the lives of her young nieces and nephews. It wasn’t until she got her hands on a Tiggly set that she realized just how much potential mobile apps could have on the early education of kids, and now she’s scouring the web for the best uses of tech for the kids! In the near future, she plans to launch a new blog focusing on just how parents in this day and age can make full use of technology to make their lives easier. Watch out for her blog soon!