COMMENTARY: Not Your Average R/C Toys

Give a child a R/C controller, and he or she will be occupied for hours, steering or flying whatever device it is around the room or outside. Give a child an iPhone and chances are your contacts will end up being deleted, you’ll be left with 350 pictures of the inside of your little boy or girl’s mouth, and your phone will soon self destruct—but, that’s about to change.

There’s no denying that it’s now essentially encrypted in children’s nature to be intrigued by new technology at increasingly younger ages—and let’s face it, most of the time they get the hang of it a lot quicker than adults. But instead of parents discouraging their children from toying around with iPhones, iPads, and tablets (because they’re of course not toys, they’re high-tech adult equipment that are soo not used for playing Candy Crush), they can instead support a productive way to use such devices with these awesome toys.

I was first introduced to Orbotix’s Sphero 2.0 when someone in the office put it on my desk and said, “Here, play with this.” I looked at the box a little confused wondering what it was, and as I starSP0SPHERO003ted to read the instructions (very helpful to figuring out how toys work), I realized that this was, hands down, one of the coolest toys I’ve ever played with. It’s simply a ball, not a fancy monster truck with huge wheels and the ability to smash into the wall, crumble into pieces, and put itself back together all while singing jingle bells—or something like that. But, it’s a robotic ball with an engine and it’s really, really fast and controlled by your phone. You just download the Sphero app on your iPhone, iPad, iTouch, or android device and using a Bluetooth connection your device transforms into a control that propels Sphero at speeds up to seven feet per second across the room and off ramps. The driving accuracy really impressed me because I do tend to be a little spazzy with toys like these, but it was actually easy to maneuver the toy around bends and turns and what not. Sphero 2.0 also lights up in a variety of neon colors which looks as spectacular as it is to play. There are also a ton of other apps available to engage Sphero in a variety of games. [Read more...]

New Research Data Released on Kids Making In-App Payments

New data from youth research agency Dubit has shown that parents have a greater hold on in-app payments (IAP). The research shows that only 2 percent of kids have ever spent without their parent’s permission, and not one of the 500 kids surveyed had ever spent more than $16 on a single purchase. Furthermore, only 17 percent of children are allowed by parents to spend money in-game, and they rarely spend more than $3 in one go.

Of the 500 parents and children (ages 6 to 12) surveyed by Dubit, 71 percent of the children played mobile games, compared with 91 percent of parents. Only 17 percent allow their child to spend real money in-game. The data shows that such permissions increase as kids get older: the older the child, the more likely they are to conduct an in-app purchase.  

Eighty-seven percent of kids always ask their parents before making a purchase, and 11 percent usually ask, meaning that only 2 percent have ever bought something without their parents’ consent. Although 2 percent is still a worry, this does not appear to be a case of kids being out of control. It appears that parents acknowledge this as 41 percent of children who are allowed to make in-app payments know their parent’s app store account details. [Read more...]

Tiggly Introduces New Tiggly Shapes and Apps

tigglyshapesTiggly Shapes, the first physical product from Tiggly, is a set of four geometric shapes (a square, a circle, a triangle, and a star) that are designed to interact with learning apps on tablets. Tiggly Shakes come with three free apps and a felt carrying pouch for easy transportation. The three included apps are Tiggly Safari, where kids use Tiggly Shapes to construct animals from the jungle, farm, and sea; Tiggly Stamp, where kids use Tiggly Shapes to build seasonally themed scenes and use voice record and camera options to tell stories and save their work; and Tiggly Draw, where kids use the tablet as a canvas and Tiggly Shapes as their tools. 

Tiggly is a learning company that is pioneering a new way to educate kids in the digital age. By combining educational benefits of physical play with the learning potential of digital tools, Tiggly Shapes believes they can create an ideal environment for early childhood learning.

Tiggly Shapes and apps are designed for kids ages 18 months to 4 years.

Turbo Racing League App Hits 20 Million Downloads

DreamWorks Animation’sDREAMWORKS ANIMATION TURBO RACING LEAGUE APP Turbo Racing League app, has reached the 20 million downloads mark. The Turbo Racing League app, from DreamWorks Animation and PikPok, features the thrill of racing in the palm of your hand, and is available on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch from the iTunes Store; Android handsets and tablets from Google Play; and Windows Phone 8 from the Windows Phone Store.

In conjunction with the app’s release, Turbo Racing League unveiled the $1,000,000 Shell-Out Contest Presented By Verizon. This in-game contest awarded $1,000,000 in cash prizes over an eight-week period and culminated in a live grand finale event where champion Brian Dragotto of Mays Landing, N.J. walked away with nearly $300,000 in winnings.

VTech Introduces InnoTab 3S

VTech InnoTab 3S_BlueVTech, introduces the InnoTab 3S for kids ages 3 to 9. The InnoTab 3S, the next generation of one of the first children’s learning tablets with Wi-Fi, features VTech Kid Connect—an exclusive communication app that allows kids to be connected with their parents and friends through both tablet-to-mobile and tablet-to-tablet communication, a rechargeable battery pack with AC adapter, and a kid-safe web browser. In addition, access to VTech’s Learning Lodge app store—home to a plethora of downloadable content and curriculum for purchase—and 20 free apps provides kids with a bright start on their learning journey. The InnoTab 3S is now available for pre-order on www.vtechkids.com, Amazon.com, Target.com, Toysrus.com, and Walmart.com.

With VTech Kid Connect, kids can use their InnoTab 3S to send text messages and animated stickers to parents’ smartphones. In return, parents can send text messages and stickers to their child’s InnoTab 3S. VTech Kid Connect gives kids the ability to emulate their parents, allowing them to feel like they are part of the text messaging trend, but from a kid-safe, kid-friendly tablet. In addition, kids can stay connected to their friends and siblings with tablet-to-tablet communication, sending messages safely between two InnoTab 3S tablets from the next room or from across the country. A value-packed Deluxe Apps Package with Premium Kid Connect will be available in the fall (sold separately), including more enhanced features, allowing kids and parents to send each other personalized voice messages, photos, and drawings, in addition to texts and animated stickers. [Read more...]

Mike the Knight Trains Knights in New App Pack

MiketheknightHit Entertainment and Funny Garbage Inc., an app design firm, launched the Mike the Knight: Knight in Training Game Pack for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. With six interactive games in one, the Mike the Knight Game Pack invites and transports young knights-in-training into an imaginative world of castles, dragons, and trolls.

Mike the Knight: Knight in Training Game Pack features everyone’s favorite young hero and includes Jam Tart Fling, Fruit Shoot, Paint the Castle, Jigsaw Jumble, Seek & Find, and Match Mission. This game app features fun missions for children to practice their archery skills, learn shapes and colors, unlock different puzzles, search for hidden objects, and match their favorite characters from memory, while developing children’s cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination. The game’s easy and hard modes welcome all children to play.

The app can be downloaded at the following links for the U.S. and for the UK.

 

Gameloft and Mattel Launch Uno & Friends

uno-and-friendsGlobal digital and social game publisher Gameloft and Mattel launched Uno & Friends. Available for free on Android, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, Uno & Friends brings an entirely new social dimension to the classic, fast-paced, and competitive gameplay of Uno. With multiplatform play, Uno & Friends can be played anywhere at any time.

Fans can now drop Wild Draw Fours and Reverse Cards on friends, family, and Uno players the world over via smartphones and tablets. Invite and challenge up to three other players in real-time using social networks, and explore unprecedented customization for the most complete Uno experience on digital devices. [Read more...]

Toon Goggles Partners with Southern Telecom for Child-Friendly Programming

PolaroidKidsTabletOnline kids destination Toon Goggles, the entertainment channel offering a diversity of kid-safe and parent-friendly programming, has partnered with Southern Telecom to launch a new free app for the Polaroid 7-inch Kids Tablet, providing viewers with instant access to Toon Goggles’ selection of animated and live-action content for children. The free Toon Goggles app is available now on the Polaroid Kids Tablet, a rugged, kid-friendly tablet with parental controls embedded right into its Android operating system.

In addition, the deal sees Southern Telecom adding Toon Boom Animation Inc.’s creative app Boom Goggles to tablets. The Boom Goggles app, developed jointly by Toon Goggles and Toon Boom, allows users to demonstrate their design skills instantly by creating their own stop-motion cartoons. Polaroid Kids Tablet users will be able to export their unique creations to the Toon Goggles platform, sharing their innovations with friends and family. Boom Goggles is available in the Google Play Store for free.

Children’s Recording Artist Laurie Berkner Debuts Sing and Send Karaoke App

Laurie Berkner has released her first-ever Sing and Send karaoke app with the help of Two Tomatoes Records and Siena Entertainment. The app debuted at No. 1 on iTunes’ Kids Music apps chart. Kids can sing and share their favorite Laurie Berkner Band songs on iPhone, iPod, and iPad. The app comes pre-loaded with three songs, and more song packs are available for purchase. [Read more...]

HIT Entertainment, Discovery Bay Games Announce Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station App, Accessory for iPad

HIT Entertainment and Discovery Bay Games have announced a new game and accessory for iPad: Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station. This Thomas & Friends-branded Duo accessory is compatible with the new Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station Duo App, available now on the App Store.

Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station gets kids jumping, skipping, and racing with all of their engine friends. The app comes with three games: Steam Engine Relay, Sodor Spot-It, and Seek & Find Adventure. Six engine cards, including Thomas, Percy, and James, along with other engine favorites, interact with Steam Team Station.

Designed for children ages 3 and up, the Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station accessory is now available at Apple Stores and Apple.com, Amazon, Target, and Toys”R”Us. The Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station Duo App is available for free from the App Store.