Interactive Toys Reviewed:
Whether you like it or not, technology is no longer something that just adults interact with and the world of technology is growing to be more than just computers, televisions and mobile phones. Tech products are becoming more useful, accessible and in turn, more affordable which is probably the reason that the average person spends nearly 9 hours a day on electronic devices. The notion of 'smart homes' are no longer for tech fanatics alone and studies show that over 80% of smart phone users keep them switched on around the clock. It's therefore not surprising that the world of technology is reaching children as young as two years old. But is this necessarily a bad thing? The reality is that we exist in a world where technology rules the roost and although parents are often afraid of letting their children access this world due to fears of cyberbullying and developing fewer social skills, there is definitely a right way to go about incorporating technology into your family routine.
Technology encourages children's inquisitive nature, develops an understanding of cause and effect and improves motor skills, interaction skills and participation skills. There are even games and apps available that make crucial life skills such as reading, writing and mathematics more exciting and engaging. What's more, smart phone and video games don’t need to result in kids spending their free time in solitude. Experts encourage parents to use technology as a family bonding experience. Be it asking your child to explain what they are creating online and giving suggestions to challenge them or downloading different apps such as an e-book reader or other educational games, technology can allow your child to intellectually flourish if used in the right way.
We have decided to review the best tech toys on the market for you kids that will help challenge and engage them in the most beneficial way!
Best for 8+: Sphero Mini
Proving that robots can be more fun than frightening is the cutesy Sphero Mini, guaranteed to win the hearts of parents and children alike. Measuring up at the size of a ping pong ball, and available in a choice of vibrant colors, this toy has a long list of smart features such as virtual joystick, tilt controls, face driving and more. We loved that upon purchase you won't only receive the Sphero Mini but you'll receive a USB charger (don’t lose it as the battery life can be under an hour!), a set of cones and a set of bowling pins. Additionally, this tech toy pairs with the Sphero Mini app which is available on Apple or Android. The app has fun and simple user interface which kids loved however we would only recommend it to parents who are prepared to let their children use their smart phones or tablets! It's great fun to watch kids controlling the ball however parents commented that it doesn’t do as well on carpet as it does on laminate flooring. What ensured that the Sphero Mini ranked so highly is the Sphero Edu app. This is astonishingly an introduction to coding that's very child-friendly. Parents commented that it was the perfect educational tool that allows children to learn skills whilst having fun at the same time. All in all, this pint size ball of fun fascinated both parents and children alike and the educational facets combined with the reasonable price tag of under $50 we think it's definitely worth investing in.
Best For 6+: Kurio Watch 2+
Aside from the fact that they're a cool way to learn telling the time, these impressive, child-friendly smartwatches help your child to engage with other aspects of life. Not only does it have a camera and play music, it has the ability to message other Kurio watches too! Coming in a choice of blue, purple or pink with a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels it's a basic smartwatch but our kid testers were more than impressed with the aesthetics. Our young reviewers enjoyed swiping the 1.54-inch touch screen to explore the features and customizing the watch face and clock which develops their creative flare. Unfortunately, testers were slightly disappointed with the quality of the camera at just 0.3 megapixels however it's sufficient enough to take selfies and we loved the option to customize these pictures with different hats and animal faces. What's more, there is no app store some parents did report being worried about the longevity of the product. Despite this, children did seem to enjoy playing the be it limited choice of games however they were most excited by the fact that they could send messages to other Kurio watches in the vicinity. Parents loved watching their children communicate via voice messages, photos and emojis and most agreed that it kept them entertained for hours. Not only that, but they were impressed with the one-year warranty which would make them confident in spending the money in the future. At under $30 the Kurio Watch 2.0+ is great value for money. Although we would love to see longer battery life with this product, the fact that kids can play games, message friends and shoot entertaining videos and pictures meant that it scored highly and received a thumbs up from us!
It's your job as a parent to nurture your child's passion and creativity and you won't need to battle technology in order to do so. Both of these toys display how technology can be both fun and challenging however the Sphero Mini ball just stole first. We loved the slick interface and the different functionalities which ensure that kids stay engaged for longer. It has many more educational functions which we weren’t expecting, particularly the introduction to coding which encourages children to think logically and creatively whilst learning skills to set them in good stead for tweenhood! If you feel like being an adult means that you're missing out, check out our review of the Sphero Robotic Ball!