There is a revolution going on within toys manufacturers. It is the era of smart toys, toys that use advanced technology to interact with children.
Think back to when you were a child, the thought of your favorite teddy bear actively interacting with you, saying your name and remembering your birthday would sound extraordinary. But are these better than a classic, silent teddy or doll? Will these lower the creative abilities of children?
Connected toys are promising a brand new, magical experience. They can replace human beings in entertaining children of all ages. We've seen it in the 90s with the Furbies, for instance. In some cases toys can also teach important lessons, such as the toys that explain to kids the Velvet Revolution in Czech Republic.
Toy industry giant Mattel is revolutionizing its most famous product, the Barbie. They partnered up with ToyTalk, to bring the world-famous doll into the 21st century with a new, artificial intelligence. This latest version called Hello Barbie is able to remember information, such as a child's favorite musician, and might bring it up days or weeks later. Additionally updates will be recorded periodically so that Barbie is always up on the recent pop culture.
Some argue that dolls have always talked through the power of children’s imaginations and that these smart toys are undermining the creative play, crucial to kids' growth. In an age where corporations oversee what we say, where we go and what we buy, these smart-toys could insinuate wrong habits in children. Kids should be taught to protect their privacy, not encouraged to divulge their private thoughts to a device that might share their secrets to someone else.
"If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child's intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analyzed" Angela Campbell, faculty adviser at Georgetown University's Center on Privacy and Technology, said in a statement. As appealing as such interactive toys may sound to the little ones, they certainly raise difficult questions for their parents.