The jury is still out on whether parents should push kids to play with tech as toys. In fact, no major study has found conclusive results in support of either the luddite or gadget fanatic views. But the fact remains that we live in a high-tech world, and raising tech-savvy children just makes sense. Technology is a vital part of our kids’ world, for better or for worse, but the good news is that mom and dad are still in the driver’s seat. Many of best gadgets for children make it simple to manage tasks, user permissions, and easy communication between parent and child. Remarkable graphics and the best mobile processors are essential, of course, but safety should be taken into consideration as well. You can help make technology a tool, as well as a toy, by choosing gadgets that empower learning, skill building, and boost creativity. Here are just a few of the tech toys that fit the bill:
Coding Experience for Kiddos
As computers and tech devices continue to be so essential in our lives, it’s important for children to have an understanding of what it takes to instruct a computer to do complex tasks. Younger kids (intended for ages 6-8) can hone their coding chops with The Foos Coding 5+ by codeSpark! Visually appealing cartoon creatures give little ones challenges that can only be solved by coding, and those challenges get harder with each challenge met, inspiring younger children to push themselves.
An Indestructible Tablet
For children and teenagers alike these days, it seems tablets and “phablets” may actually be preferable to smartphones. The powerful, usable, and very affordable (it’s under $100!) Amazon Fire HD 6 is perfect for your son or daughter. This tablet has a strong quad-core processor and can handle any task you throw its way. For tots, opt for the Amazon Fire Kids edition – a full-featured Fire tablet that comes pre-protected in a kid-proof case, and ready to go with a year of curated kid-friendly content from Amazon FreeTime. Better yet, the price tag includes a two-year guarantee against damage caused by everything from accidental drops to spilled juice.
Something to Make
Circuit Stickers by Chibitronics lets kids explore the why and how of DIY circuits without all the hassle of soldering. These make-your-own circuit kits come with innovative peel-and-stick electrical elements that make experimenting with LEDs and batteries a great after-school or snow day activity.
A Unique Introduction To Robotics
Forget remote control! Dash by Make Wonder uses a simple graphical user interface to get kids mapping out the chains of commands that make these adorable robots chat, dance, scoot and more. Dash is an adorable robot who responds to voice, navigates objects, and has a collection of apps for every age group, learning level and play style. To start, download the four wonderfully designed free iPad or Android apps, and have your child work through basic problem solving skills through simple, visual-based tablet controls. No thick programming books or science camp required!
And the Gift of Creativity
App and toy combos are common, but Stikbot by Zing is different. The set comes with an adjustable tripod, as well as two Stikbots. After downloading the Stikbot Studio app (compatible with both Android and iOS devices), your child get started on their own stop motion animation video masterpiece! On top of that, Stikbot is just complicated enough to make it a perfect way to get the whole family involved in a shared project.
As you can see, technology for kids has become increasingly more than simple screen time. However, if you’re still worried that technology is turning this generation of kids into screen zombies, consider this—most experts seem to agree that in moderation, technological toys can spark imagination and inspire exploration. Furthermore, it gives a new breed of digital natives the tools they need to succeed in our tech-centric world.
Samantha Rivers is a freelance writer who lives in Chicago (Go Cubs!) and loves writing anything in the lifestyle, beauty, travel, and career realm both online and print. When she’s not running the Upward Onward blog, she enjoys reading, finding new restaurants, being active outside, and indulging in a glass of wine or two.