The evolution of play time, activities

Family Features | 9/26/2015, 8:18 a.m.
In today’s electronic-driven digital age, youth are defining a new way to play.
Family Features

Family Features

In today’s electronic-driven digital age, youth are defining a new way to play. As the market for toys boasting the latest in technology continues to grow, companies have become increasingly innovative to deliver toys that tick the tech checkbox for youth, while satisfying parents who want options that inspire the imagination and encourage active play.

A new study commissioned by Disney reveals that parents feel nostalgia for the way they used to play growing up and that they also have a desire to keep their children active. The online study of 2,000 families across the country shows that while almost all parents believe in the power of active and creative play, they believe technology is also an important part of growing up today. In fact, 9 out of 10 parents are open to new technology that could play a role in keeping their child active.

Imagination becomes real

The latest evolution of technology play is now on hand to help meet the needs of both children and parents by bringing digital experiences into the real world. A new category of play, Disney’s Playmation inspires youth to run around and use their imaginations, but with a digital twist. The system of connected toys and wearables combines digital and physical play to put youth in the center of the action where they can actually become the hero or heroine of their favorite Disney stories.

The first system, Playmation Marvel’s Avengers, lets children join on missions and adventures throughout the Marvel Universe. Purposely not tethered to an Internet connection, the Avengers game allows children to play anywhere they want – a bedroom, living room or yard.

Youth can also login to an app to see progress, explore new locations and characters and unlock new missions. The starter pack, which includes a Repulsor Gear that connects to the Power Activators and two Smart Figures, is now available for pre-order at http://www.playmation.com before hitting shelves this fall.

Throwbacks with a thrill

Another win-win strategy: Putting a fresh technology spin on old favorites to make them hip once more. Take the old-school game of tag, for example. With the addition of infrared devices, targets and impressive audio, laser tag adds new thrill to an old-school game making it relevant for today’s tech-hungry youth. Systems appropriate for home use are plenty, but most major cities also boast indoor arenas and outdoor ranges for larger scale play. A far cry from the traditional chase and touch game parents recall, nonetheless, it’s a marriage of tech and toy that gets youth moving.

Art goes electronic

When it comes to letting creative imagination run free, there’s a world of high-tech art for youth to explore. Back-lit tracing pads, projectors for wall-size artistry and vibrantly colored screens all seem a far cry from yesteryear’s drawing tablets and big box of crayons – with a sharpener built in, if you were extra lucky. Yet despite the digital approach, at the core these toys inspire the same artistic expression as their tech-free predecessors.

Although technology-enabled toys and devices top most youth’s wish lists, a growing number of these options are designed to pique the imagination and inspire youth to set their physical and creative expression free.