In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Christine Rosen wrote an interesting article (subscription required; free alternate link here) about the effects of electronic toys on child development. The article cites a couple recent studies that question the benefits of electronic learning toys.
Electronic toys have become overwhelmingly popular over the past decade. Many of us in the toy industry have watched this trend with suspicion, believing imagination and human interaction to be at the heart of play–especially for preschool children. It stands to reason that too much technology might get in the way, and it now appears that some bona fide research is confirming this.
At Step2 we’ve introduced electronic features to a modest number of our products. Typically, these have been practical in nature (e.g., a light on the Art Master Activity Desk) or purely to add realistic sound effects to role play toys (e.g., cooking sounds on the collection of LifeStyle Kitchens). Overwhelmingly, our products engage children in open-ended, imaginative play, and this continues to be the focus of our product development efforts. I dare say our products with electronics are just as fun without the batteries.