Smartphones were first, then tablets and now there are digital toys.
Former Cantabrian Brett King, now living in Finland, has made a foray into the market of children's applications with his company Kapu Toys' new creation, Kapu Forest.
“When we made the decision to start Kapu Toys, there were only a couple of developers making digital toys," he said. "Now there are too many to count. Apple has even started its own category specifically for kids' apps.”
The app, which is set in a forest, features several activities for smaller children that aim to teach them about nature.
It also features a time limit as King wanted to encourage children to play in the real world.
Despite the developments in digital toys, Canterbury parents still prefer more traditional toys.
“There's actually a growth in traditional toys in New Zealand, if you look at toys coming in from Europe,” said Christchurch toy seller Adrien Lefebvre, whose company, Tarata, specialises in wooden toys and puzzles.
“There's a nostalgic feeling about wooden toys. Some of my customers say to me, ‘I used to have one of these when I was a kid'. They [electronic toys] have their place. It's a different type of learning that you do through electronic toys. With wooden toys you learn motor skills and problem-solving skills in different ways.
“With electronic toys, it's a different type of thinking that happens."
Lisa Evered, who owns The Toy Tree in Papanui, said children still liked having a 3-D concept of imaginative play, even though there was a lot on television and many electrical games.
“Dolls houses, pirate ships and wooden kitchens are consistently popular. There are no trends that come and go with them.”
Maree O'Donoghue, who works at the Toy Tree but trained as a primary school teacher, said the way children played with one another at school had not changed as they were still playing hopscotch and tag and climbing on jungle gyms.
While she saw the value of some electronic toys, she felt it was important not to let children start playing with them “from day one”.
Canterbury University education lecturer Gaye Tyler-Merrick said that, while her 7-year-old granddaughter was adept with an iPhone or a computer, she was allowed only limited time to play with them.
“She's allowed five to 10 minutes [playing electronic games], and then she has to talk to me. It's a treat. It doesn't happen every day.”
Her 3-year-old grandson usually had to be cajoled to go out on his scooter as he preferred to watch DVDs, but once he was outside, he enjoyed it, she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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