(ARA) – It’s chic to be a geek if you’re a kid today. Technology has become the status quo for kids, something they expect to see incorporated across all facets of life: at school, home and especially at play.
This expectation is most evident in the toy aisle, where traditional action figures, plush and board games are occupying less and less shelf space. Video games, mobile devices and electronic gadgets now dominate, and have become largely the products of choice among today’s geek chic kids.
The digital divide
Young consumers are constantly seeking new ways to link across multiple media platforms and socially connect to friends and peers around the world. They are technology-savvy and quick to judge a product based on its tech ability. The products best reflecting that demand – games with portable handsets, products that provide accessibility anytime, anywhere, and online networks – are topping the charts in popularity, and leaving some parents scratching their heads as to what entertainment products are the best choices for their school-aged children.
Industry analyst research confirms a decline in sales for traditional toys, and a steady rise in adoption of electronics and video games. This market shift leaves a gap between traditional play and online content, because the experiences happen on essentially separate islands: online and in the physical world. The result is a trend of more and more kids playing alone with a machine, lacking in social interaction and the fun of classic play with their peers. What hasn’t changed is that kids still prefer the company of friends for play versus the alternative; but, unlike the days when checkers or a game of Risk were the activity of choice, kids now are looking to technology for inspiration.
Bridging the gap
While time playing in the digital world threatens to overtake time spent with physical toys and games like Barbie, G.I. Joe and CandyLand, a third option is emerging; one that integrates traditional play with the appeal and technology of digital entertainment.
Products like Nanovor, a digital battling monster game (www.nanovor.com), are merging the best of both worlds to give kids what experts are calling a “connected play experience.” This provides online connected play as well as an electronic offline component that encourages play with friends. Integration between the online Nanovor game and a connected toy called the Nanoscope, delivers a play experience that allows the players’ activity online to enhance what they do offline, and what they do offline to enhance online play in an unbroken circle. Further, the connected play experience provides the benefits of social interaction with friends and promotes a healthy love for exploration.
The toy industry has always strived to stay ahead of the curve and forecast trends and changing habits among youth before they happen. This new tech savvy generation multiplies that challenge tenfold, making the demand even greater for products that can bridge the gap between classic play and digital entertainment. Parents must also remember that while their geek-chic kids are begging for the latest gadget, the value of social play – and thus toys that can enable that through a digital channel – is just as important as ever.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
Author: Andy Quayle
Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
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