More Research on Electronic Toys

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.

1 Comment
  1. I absolutely agree. I have a no-quite 2 year old son and I just purchased the up/down roller coaster. Not only does he use it as intended, but he decided it makes a great playground for his trucks and other vehicles. He has also commando crawled down and up the track. He also has a modest playset outside w/ a slide and platform also from Step 2 – he has so much fun crawling under and over and sliding. He sometimes “hides” underneath to play peek-a-boo. His first step 2 was the crawl thru tunnel – now he climbs over and turns it on end to hide inside. We are going to get one of the sand boxes when they come into season…I’m sure that will lead to some other interesting forms of play.

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