In less than 2 weeks, a small country of technologists, innovators, and developers will convene at CES 2016.Over the years, CES has become a go-to destination for the kids’ market place with a dedicated Kids@Play Summit and highly anticipated KAPi Awards that celebrate the best devices, gadgets, apps, games and gizmos.
As a KAPi judge and president of Digital Kids(™) Media, producer of Digital Kids Conference, I believe the biggest trend in the digital kids’ space is all about knocking down boundaries. In fact, today’s digital native doesn’t know boundaries. Case in point – children don’t discern between a physical and digital toy. What they do know – connected, smart play. And, the discussion around screen time boundaries is growing ever-more irrelevant. Kids believe connectivity is akin to water and air – it just exists.
And, as boundaries are disintegrating, we are seeing a level of technology immersion for our kids like never before. Grounded in this reality I would like to share my observations for what’s hot for the kids’ digital business in 2016 and beyond.
Play is Connected: While not a new trend – connected, smart play has taken root. Look at this year’s hottest toy – Sphero’s BB-8. This cool little droid has an adaptive personality that evolves as you interact with him. He also has autonomous behavior, which means he has a mind of his own. He reacts and responds to your voice and the play possibilities are seemingly infinite. While the wow factor cannot be underscored, I bet a year from now, our kids will come to expect this level of sophisticated play as common place. I think they already do.

Digital Physical: Take the $99 rubber duckie named Edwin. He is a bath-time companion, nightlight that plays soothing bedtime music and a digital friend, whose animated character play games, read stories, sing songs, and of course – teaches. I know … you’re still reeling at the $99. But, guess what? He’s awesome! He’s also now part of our family and my daughter fully expects she can take him from bath to iPad for seamless digital and physical play.

Learning Reigns: From device to toy, learning is the key (if not, magic) ingredient. Parents look for products that have concrete opportunities for learning. That said, we know if it doesn’t pass the fun test – it won’t make it very far. There is a richness of toys and devices that tout learning benefits driving the STEAM ed movement. From Tiggly to Wonder Workshop’s Dash & Dot to littleBits – products that infuse learning into fun play reign supreme.

While navigating the tech scene offers it challenges for families, it’s these exciting trends that have the potential to make life better, sweeter, easier – resulting in a seeming infinite number of possibilities for the digital kids’ market. Come to CES and visit the KAPi Awards booth, sponsored by Digital Kids, and see if you agree!

For a decade, Tonda Bunge Sellers, president of Digital Kids Media producer of Digital Kids Conference, has led the industry in advancing the kids’ digital market. The Digital Kids Conference, co-located with Toy Fair, attracts industry pioneers and technologists from the biggest tech, entertainment and education brands to share their latest innovations that appeal to the digital native and their connected families.
Use “KAPiViP” to register for Digital Kids (Feb. 15-16, NYC) and receive 20% off before January 12th(which includes entry to Toy Fair).

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