Tech Toys for Kids Worth Buying This Holiday Season
2016 is definitely the year of the “smart” toy. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) toys are also experiencing a huge surge in popularity, which is really awesome to see. With all the options out there, which tech toys are worth spending your money on? Here are a few of our favorites.
littleBits Rule Your Room Inventor Kit
This invention kit teaches kids science, engineering, art and math skills while allowing them to create things like “burglar buzzers”, programmable puppets, and touch control pads using the toys and every day items they have in their rooms. The kit comes with instructions for 8 inventions, but the possibilities are really endless.
MSRP: $100 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $80
- Pros: Works with the stuff your kids already have laying around their rooms, including LEGOs, stuffed animals, etc. Getting great reviews (PCMag gave it an “Excellent” rating).
- Cons: Going to take some time, and help, for younger kids to master it. Some consider it expensive for the components it comes with.
Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar
For the youngest budding programmers out there, Fisher-Price’s Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar is a great option. Geared toward preschoolers, it has nine segments that can arranged and rearranged to make the Code-a-Pillar move forward, left, right, wiggle, dance, etc. Kids will be having so much fun with it, they’ll have no idea they’re learning sequencing and coding at the same time.
MSRP: $50 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $32
- Pros: Simple and easy to learn. Low price point. Great blending of learning and fun.
- Cons: Reviews say you really need hardwood floors and a good amount of space to get the most out of it. Older kids may get bored with its simple design.
Amazon Fire Kids Edition 7″ 8GB WiFi Tablet
It says right on the description that this tablet is “Not a toy,” but although it looks and feels more like an adult tablet than its biggest competitor, the LeapPad, the Kids Fire was definitely designed with young users in mind. Not only does it come with “kid-proof” case, it includes a 2-year worry-free guarantee in case your kids do somehow manage to break it.
MSRP: $100 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $70
- Pros: Has a microSD slot for up to 200GB of additional storage. Includes a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited for access to thousands of kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, apps, and games. Tons of solid reviews.
- Cons: Less safety features built in compared to the LeapPad tablets. Better for older kids.
Meccano MicroNoid Programmable Robot
If you’re not sure your kid is going to love the whole robot programming thing, the MicroNoid is an excellent option (it has a retail price of $40, compared to the $180 price tag on their larger Meccanoid 2.0 model). Thanks to positive early reviews, the MicroNoid is already the #1 bestseller in Model Building Kits on Amazon.
MSRP: $40 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $24
- Pros: Affordable price point. Push-button programming makes it fairly simple to use for older kids.
- Cons: Looks like it would be hard for younger kids to build/program on their own. Doesn’t have as many features as the more expensive models.
VTech Kidizoom Action Cam
Here’s a great tech toy that actually encourages kids to get outside and be active. The VTech Kidizoom Action Cam can be mounted to bikes, skateboards and more, and can take photos and videos in up to 6 feet of water. It’s not going to give you GoPro-quality videos, but for under $50 reviews say it’s a ton of fun.
MSRP: $60 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $29
- Pros: Kids will have fun using it, and adults will enjoy seeing the world through their children’s eyes. Has a microSD card slot for expanded memory, and a rechargable battery that can record up to 2.5 hours on a single charge. Way cheaper than a GoPro!
- Cons: The 640×480 resolution is not going to look good if you want to print or save it. The screen is very small (1.4″). Definitely better for young kids vs tweens who will expect better video/picture quality thanks to all those Youtube videos they’ve seen!
Crayola MyPhones Volume-Limiting Headphones
The Crayola MyPhones (made by Griffin) are durable headphones designed specifically for kids. The best part about them is that they are equipped with built-in volume-limiting technology so that kids can’t turn them up past 85 decibels (the recommended max for young ears).
The MyPhones are a well-known model, but more and more brands are coming out with kid-safe options.
MSRP: $25 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A
- Pros: Getting great reviews around the web. The built-in volume control is a huge plus. Headphones in general are great for car trips or times where you just can’t stand to hear another Justin Beiber song coming through the speakers.
- Cons: Your kid might not like that they don’t get very loud. Some people mention they make it hard to hear music/games/movies when using them in noisy places.
BOSEbuild Speaker Cube
This build-it-yourself Bluetooth speaker for kids only has 22 total reviews on Amazon so far–but all 22 of them give it 5/5 stars. Teaches kids all about sound and speaker components as they build their own speaker with “Bose-quality sound”, personalizable light effects, and more. Here’s more from CNET.
MSRP: $149 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A
- Pros: Designed for kids (8+) to be able to complete the project without help from adults. Results in a very high-quality finished product. The accompanying app provides more in-depth information on the different components.
- Cons: Pretty spendy for a DIY kit that’s only supposed to take a couple hours to complete.
Nintendo 2DS Mario Kart 7 Bundle
We’ve already talked about the new Nintendo 2DS in our Video Game Holiday Gift Guide so I won’t go into too much detail here. But this simpler, more durable handheld gaming system is a great option for the younger video game addict. This year the price point is more affordable than ever.
MSRP: $90 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $60
- Pros: Vast gaming library, due to compatibility with DS and 3DS titles. Built to withstand small kids tossing it around. Hinge-free design eliminates breakage and potential for kids hurting their fingers.
- Cons: Games are significantly more expensive than smartphone / tablet mobile games.