Today’s kids are growing up with technology that no other generation has ever experienced and are essentially serving as guinea pigs for a whole new generation of play. With kids exploring the blurred lines between physical and virtual play, toymakers are rushing to create more and more ‘appcessories’ for kids to interact with their toys – and their gadgets.
Appcessories have boomed into the marketplace in the past couple of years and have evolved into everything from plush companions like Ubooly and Totoya Creatures to Nukotoys’ educational and interactive “trading” cards. And this is just the beginning.
A recent survey by the NPD Group found that tablet use among kids has grown by 13 percent this past year, as opposed to just 3 percent in 2011. These numbers will undoubtedly continue growing and are adding even more motivation for manufacturers to get their “latest and greatest” appcessories onto the marketplace.
Now that kids are “playing” with their gadgets, how is play being redefined? Do appcessories count as screen time or is this simply the way that play is evolving? The reality is that there are always going to be wooden blocks, pots and pans and non-digital toys that kids can play with, which would make appcessories falling under media usage a logical connection.
Lauren Rubenzahl, program coordinator at the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School expressed that appcessories, like all other forms of media, can certainly have their place in terms of benefitting the child, assuming you’re choosing ones that are developmentally appropriate. She suggests, “Appcessories can be fun and useful. When choosing them, it’s helpful to think about what purpose you’d like them to serve. Then use that information to help guide your decisions about how you’d like your kids to use them."
September 21, 2012