Growing up, we all had one toy we could play with for hours. Together, we’d jump from chair to chair, avoiding hot lava before chatting over afternoon “tea.” While talking toys aren’t new (RIP Teddy Ruxpin), they haven’t been able to keep up with the kinds of conversations kids want to have—until now.
While tech toys are catching up, some people worry that more technology equals more screen time for kids. According to a recent UCLA study, scientists found that kids who went five days without looking at a digital screen did much better at reading human emotions than those who spent hours each day looking at electronic devices. As technology becomes more ubiquitous, kids will need to know how to interact with it safely. Luckily, there are plenty of options for learning about technology without the need for a screen. Here are a few to consider:
Building a Tech-Based Science Project at Home
Foster an interest in technology and engineering by teaching your kids to explore them in a hands-on way. Popular Mechanics is a great resource for tech projects to try at home, such as this $25 Mars Rover. Or, if you’re already counting down the days until next Halloween, try building this super Spooky Fog Machine.
Visiting a Science Museum
How cool would it be to learn about solar panels on a Science Barge? There are tons of science centers and classes throughout the country dedicated to teaching kids about tech. Whether you want your kid to take a class with other little tech leaders or make it a family outing, these places are STEM-azing:
New York Hall of Science - New York, NY
- Liberty Science Center - New York, NY
- Brooklyn Robot Foundry - New York, NY
- Children’s Museum of Science and Technology - Troy, NY
- The Exploratorium - San Francisco, CA
- Museum of Science - Boston, MA
- California Science Center - Los Angeles, CA**
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis - Indianapolis, IN
- Center of Science and Industry - Columbus, OH
**Be sure to check out the Science Behind Pixar Exhibit!
Playing with Screen-Free Smart Toys
Not all technology is created equal. While many tech toys require the use of an app or smart device to play, some, like the CogniToys Dino, strike a perfect balance between technology and traditional toys. How? The Dino allows kids to play interactive games, hear and create stories, ask endless questions and more. All of this can be done while speaking directly to the toy, ensuring that kids are playing in a way that’s not only fun, but beneficial for their development and growth.
Reading About It!
For little learners who are a bit more visual, try subscribing to a technology magazine made just for kids. While magazines like Time for Kids have a science section, Kids Codecs Magazine exclusively writes about topics like coding, computer science and how we use technology in our daily lives.
There’s no way around it: Kids must understand how to successfully navigate technology—including devices with screens. That said, moderating screen time is crucial for emotional development. Luckily, with the above solutions, parents and educators alike can ensure kids continue learning about technology in a safe, and healthy way.