The Rise of Kids Tech

Overview With a generation of kids growing up not knowing a life without tech, the tech and toy industries are joining forces to meet the needs and desires of this young market.

The next generation of kids is “tech fluid,” according to Living in Digital Times (LIDT) Founder Robin Raskin. Raskin, a technology trends writer since the 1980s who has contributed to and been featured in major outlets, has led LIDT to look at the intersection of lifestyle and technology, producing a number of conferences at CES and other events.

As CES 2020 rounds the corner, Raskin provided some insider perspective into what’s new and upcoming in the kids tech space.

Kids’ ability to seamlessly move between and merge non-tech and tech has changed the way tech is presented, from lowering prices to incorporating it into traditional toys.

Technology is only becoming more widespread, and as kids grow within the digital world, parents have needed to change their expectations and purchasing trends.

 

Try Before You Buy

The kids tech industry is excited to see Toys “R” Us plan a comeback and a transformation into an interactive space. With parents apprehensive about purchasing tech toys without experimenting with them first, spaces like Tru Kids’ anticipated play areas will allow for tech toy companies to showcase their products in a hands-on environment for kids and convince parents, who will be making the purchase.

Experiential play places are also giving kids and young tech enthusiasts the opportunity to play with augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).

“AR makes sense to kids,” said Raskin of restaurants and airports that include AR/VR experiences. “For many kids, public spaces will be the first place they experiment with mixed realities.”

Kids are also expecting a tech component in every toy, whether it’s a sensor that brings the toy alive when you approach, a voice activation, or an app that extends play life.

 

The STEM Promise

The focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education — also including arts, in some approaches, and referred to as STEAM education — continues to exhibit healthy growth with companies vying to prove that their products and services are in line with this future-focused trend.

“STEM and STEAM education is paramount for the parents investing in the skills their kids need for a 21st century education,” Raskin said. “It’s a bright spot in the kids tech market.”

Like video games that use building blocks digitized by an app, or robotic toys that allow kids to learn coding and decide the movements of their own toys, toys are being reimagined from traditional products that parents are used to from their own childhood.

Though parents are concerned about screen time, these products — particularly those with a physical aspect along with the digital tech, like building blocks — have proven that parents are willing to spend money on tech for a reason.

The next generation of kids is tech-fluid.

Robin Raskin
Founder, Living in Digital Times

Seeing Themselves with Tech

Part of the integration toward a digitized childhood is kids’ interest in being part of the content. The merge between tech and lifestyle happens in platforms such as TikTok, where the younger generation can be creators and consumers by developing their own content.

The trend toward personalization of kids’ products may have started with headphones and accessories, but it’s bound to continue. Tech companies focused on kids should keep in mind the personalization of products to appeal to kids, moving away from tech for tech’s sake and building a more authentic connection with these younger audiences.

“Kids love Alexa, but would they love her more if she had changing hairdos or eyeballs?” Raskin explained. “Maybe in the future, you’ve got to be able to say ‘Alexa, what’s up?’”

 

Tech-Savvy Parents

As more millennials become parents, tech toy companies are faced with convincing tech-knowledgeable parents to add the right tech to their playtime.

These are parents who have started using smart home products to help monitor their child’s screen time and whereabouts. They’ll also use them to connect intergenerationally and spawn a relationship between kids and grandparents.

As the tech toy market rises and continues to grow, companies must learn to produce and market reasonably priced tech toys that capture kids’ imagination and sense of whimsy without breaking parents’ pocketbooks.



Living in Digital Times at CES 2020

See how Living in Digital Health is showcasing tech in daily life during CES 2020.

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