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Smart Toys


Parents today are concern about the development of their children especially brain development. As a result, they tend to find brain-building toys or smart toys that 'claim' to help to boost the level of intelligence. When there is a demand, there will be a supply. Now stores are filled with various 'smart toys'.

So, what is a smart toy? In a nutshell, a smart toy incorporates some level of computer technology that could respond according to the child's actions and can even identify the child's skill level, hence could adjust the game accordingly. A robotic dog that just walks and barks but not in response to anything the child does is not considered smart toy.

In addition, smart toys tend to enhance play by interacting with the child through 'open-ended' play suggestions that allow the child to step in to define the play scenario. For example, a smart ambulance toy may say, "Help is needed over there," suggesting a rescue play pattern without dictating play. Since the child is not told what to do is free to use their imagination to continue the play, thereby sparks the child's creativity. 'ActiMates Teletubbies' is an example of smart toy:

ActiMates Teletubbies, developed by Microsoft, are stuffed toys that will talk, sing, and play games with your kids. Each one has a little screen on its stomach, consisting of different colored LED lights that display shapes and designs your child will start to recognize. Your child just has to push the screen to start any number of games, and then to squeeze the doll's hands and feet in order to play. You can even get the Teletubby to communicate with your PC using the PC Pack, although we think it functions best as a standalone companion.


While smart toys are usually expensive, can you make sure you get the best return on your investment? In other words, can smart toys really make your child smarter? To a large extend, there is no conclusive proof that smart toys are going to increase your child I.Q. If so, is it worth spending money on smart toys?

Pete Stavinoha, child psychologist of University of Texas Southwestern said smart toys don't necessary score higher than the classics, like puzzles and blocks. Stavinoha said how a toy impacts a child's development depends on how it's used, the interaction it promotes, the language used to discuss the toy and the level of pretend play it promotes. Traditional toys like building blocks, crayons and puzzles work as well as the more sophisticated "smart toys".

"Playing with crayons, drawing and painting unleash the creativity in a child and encourage old-fashioned imagination and exploration," he said. "A child can learn problem solving and persistence with simple building blocks, by rebuilding structures when they wobble and fall," Stavinoha said. Even simple play such as parents reading out loud with action using storybook that full of colorful picture to the child could promote their imagination.

When it comes to computer games, Stavinoha claimed that there are not real-life experiences. For example, when a child run into a roadblock on a computer games can always reset the games and start all over again. As a result, the child has no difficulty to overcome.

Stavinoha said the children that succeeded later in life are those who have learned through play that life has challenges and overcome them while they play and in the process boost their self-confidence. Most importantly is for parents to participate and to interact with their children when playing. Even the best toys won't help children develop if they're left to play alone. However, parents are reminded to leave enough space for their children to be creative. Do not interrupt when they are concentrate playing (even though the way they play is different from you). Only provide guidance and encouragement when they have hit their limit.

Traditional games, play or toys are as good as expensive smart toys. To go back to the basics, look at this toys ideas or this brain-building games for some ideas on simple toys or games that could be make your child smart too!



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