The exponential growth of technology has inevitably seen the merging of traditional functional toys with incredible new technology and features, and now there are many toys that can do things that most kids could have only dreamed of just a couple of decades ago: some can move on their own, some respond to voice commands, others are smart phone integrated and others even begin to explore virtual reality. But are these "smart" toys a smart choice for our kids?
I'm sure you can remember your favourite childhood toy... mine was a simple black and yellow plastic ride-on motorbike on which I'd spend hours racing my cousin around the neighbourhood and leaving a wake of destruction wherever we roamed. Would I be correct in assuming that your favourite childhood toy was also a simple functional toy that allowed you to explore the world through childhood imagination?
I'm not sure that today's parents have taken the time to truly access the impact of new smart toys on a child's imagination. Often we get all excited and caught up in the clever use of technology and how many of the things we used to wish our toys could do, are now a possibility for the new generation. But often we don't realise that the desire for these amazing features was really only brought to life and given value by our very own imaginations and now that these features are a reality in toys they are hardly as exciting as we had imagined they would be!
Consider these examples: ever wondered why kids often find a toys packaging to be more exciting than the toy, or find a simple thing like a stick more exciting than the most amazing interactive new toy? It's a simple observation but a timeliness truth, the true value of a toy is in its ability to stimulate wonderful childhood imagination. The busy and technology filled world that we live in today wages a war on childhood imagination, hours of over-stimulation in front of the TV or on smart devices rewires and desensitises a child's brain into a state of constant reliance on being spoon-fed ideas rather than creating their own.
As parents, we do not need to be anti or afraid of technology for children, but it should not come at the expense of childhood imagination. As a child grows older and starts going to school, technology will become increasing important and it opens up a world of discovery - but that time will come!
The simplest toys are often the best toys. We have identified the need for the re-emergence of simple functional toys that go against the norm and challenge kids to use their imaginations again. Bouncing Buddies are a new toy in NZ specially designed for toddlers and preschoolers. They are a simple redesign of the famous Moon Hoppers of the 1970's into inflatable bouncing animals that help children learn balance and coordination, develop strength and confidence and have fun playing together and using their imaginations.
Our Vision is that Bouncing Buddies become an iconic childhood toy that facilitates core development and opens up the world of wonderful childhood imagination.