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Interconnectivity and Learning Systems: Toys that Make Use of the Internet

Updated on June 23, 2012
Games as educational tools
Games as educational tools | Source

Interconnectivity is important in today’s world. It enables us to keep in touch with one another, voice our opinions and seek out information. It also makes us aware and makes us react to the things that happen around us which are beyond our sight or hearing. We are also able to make tools, generate concepts or write articles from what we learn online.

With the impact that the internet is making on us, toy companies saw the need to incorporate it in some of their toys. They made toys that are upgradeable. By downloading files from their website, you could add more songs, games or other features that enhance playing experience. They also made miniature versions of the gadgets that we adults use like toy tablets and mobile phones which almost have the same functionalities as the real versions. There are also toys with websites that cater to communities of toy owners so that they can interact with each other.

For children, early exposure to these kinds of learning systems can mean that they would easily adapt to the new tools that will be introduced in the future. This will also open up avenues for them to interact with each other in the virtual world. It introduces kids to terms such as download, upgrade and update which are terms used to enhance the function of things. These terms may encourage them to develop the habit of making things better.

Different Ways Toys Make Use of the Internet

Toy laptops, tablets and e-book readers

These toys are marketed more as learning systems rather than toys. They come with educational activities for kids that enhance their reading and writing skills. Touchscreen, a common feature among these toys, lets kids draw or play virtual musical instruments. Some of them come with cameras to capture videos and images as well as applications to edit them. Through USB slots or memory cards, applications available for download can be added to these learning systems.

One of my favorite concepts about using these toys is that they use icons to represent their different functions because it teaches children to associate drawings and images with other objects. These toys are also designed to keep pace with a kid’s skill level. For beginners, for example, the speed that the toy tells a story is slower until the child is ready to move on to the next level. Through voiced and written instructions, children also learn to follow directions.

The three leading toy manufacturers of these toys are Leapfrog, Vtech and Fisher-Price.

Examples of these toys include:

  • LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet
  • LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System
  • LeapFrog Leapster2 Learning Game System
  • Vtech - InnoTab Interactive Learning Tablet
  • Vtech - V.Reader Animated E-Book System
  • Vtech - MobiGo Touch Learning System
  • Fisher-Price iXL 6-in-1 Learning System

Drawing by a seven year old
Drawing by a seven year old | Source

Skill specific toys with downloadable songs and games

These types of toys are specifically designed to perform a set of functions centered on one theme. As such, if a certain toy is considered to be musical in nature, the updates available for it are songs, sound effects and musical games. If a toy is for drawing, the downloadable files will be photos and drawing templates. However, although these toys generally target particular skills, they more closely resemble the tools and instruments adults use.

It would be wise to know if a child is interested in them first before buying because they target specific skills, curiosities or talents. It will not matter how great a musical toy it is or how many songs could be added to it if your child is not interested in music. On the other hand, the good thing about them targeting specific groups is that they were also designed to be well received by these specific groups as well. For example, while not all children like to sing, those that do will enjoy a musical toy with a bonus mic in hand. Children who developed a special liking to geography could play with globes.

Examples of these toys include:

  • Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Music Player with Microphone
  • Fisher-Price Learn Through Music TouchPad
  • Oregon Scientific Smart Globe
  • Ucreate Music
  • Ucreate Games & Artimation

A child's colorful drawing
A child's colorful drawing | Source

Toys that serve as keys to virtual communities

It is a growing trend among toys to also have web portals that toy owners can access to talk to other owners. The owners then could set up their toy to play with other toys in a virtual world. They could use avatars and customize their toys’ appearances online. They could also talk to others not only on matters relating to their toy but other topics as well. The websites have lots of activities and educational games too that parents can also access to monitor their child’s progress. These toys are intended to introduce kids to virtual communities.

The websites for these toys are great because kids can talk to other kids online. Toy companies have applied measures to protect computers from hackers by using security codes and parental controls but parents should still monitor their children when using them. In addition, not all owners of these toys are kids and your kid might be talking to an adult pretending to be one.

Examples of these toys include:

  • Webkinz Plush Toys
  • Mazin Hamster Series
  • Mattel Dora Links Doll
  • Sea Pals by Russ Plush Toys
  • KooKeys Plush Toys
  • Tracksters Toy Vehicles

These toys make children comfortable in using computers or the internet. Through various downloads and upgrades, children hang on to these toys longer. By talking to each other about their toys, they interact and socialize online. These toys also present a variety of ways to entertain kids while learning at the same time.


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