Toy companies creating kid-friendly and parent-approved technology has been a trend for some time, with no signs of slowing down in sight. In the recent past, tablets such as the Kurio 7s and LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra dominated the kiddie-tech market with durable rubber casings, safe settings, and easy-to-set parental controls. Now, however, manufacturers are focusing on putting different devices in the hands and on the wrists of kids.
Kids know the difference between a toy phone and their parent’s smartphone, and they want the real deal, with a touchscreen, cool apps, and a camera as musts. Companies such as Techno Source and VTech are giving kids just that with new devices, including Techno Source’s Kurio Phone—available in October—which features an Android 4.2 operating system, built-in Wi-Fi and 3g mobile data, and a 4-inch capacitive touchscreen. VTech, meanwhile, has the Call & Chat Learning Phone, which lets preschoolers choose a ringtone and create a phone book.
Another seemingly adult device that kids are now interested in are smartwatches, possibly caused by the new Fitbit or fitness watch obsession. Kid versions include LeapFrog’s LeapBand—which tracks physical activity just like a grown-up watch—and VTech’s Kidizoom Smartwatch. Although the latter is not a fitness tracker, it can be used to capture pictures, shoot video, play games, record voices, and more.
Nowadays, kids are used to seeing their parents’ iPhones and Android phones glued to their hands, so they want a piece of the action, too. There are tons of apps for kids to play on their parents’ phones, but the second the phone starts ringing or Mom or Dad needs to check an email, playtime is over. Toy companies are all over this problem, but ultimately, what sets a successful kiddie-phone apart from the pack is how closely it resembles the original.
For more commentary from Deanna, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!