Is there a future for creative play in the offline world?
We’ve all seen that 3 year old kid using an iPad as if he was born holding it! Oh, you’ve seen a 1 year old with a Candy Crush high-score that beats yours? Wow, amazing, where do they get the skills?!
Yes, it’s all very impressive and important for our future, which is looking highly digital! But let’s not forget that we actually live in a physical world and while we (adults born in the 20th century) comfortably use digital technology, we grew up in an age without it being so heavily present in our everyday lives. This means that we are able to create a balance and more importantly differentiate digital and physical worlds. Children today spend an average of 8 hours per day in front of screens, that is more than they spend in school or even sleeping! The main issue with that is that they lose perception of what’s real and what is virtual and assume that the physical world is fixed, not understanding that it was designed by people.
Speaking of design, if you talk to any architect, designer or engineer, they are very likely to reference Lego as one of their favourite childhood toys and a key inspiration in their interest in design. Toys like Lego develop creative problem solving skills and constructive thinking. Even if you never end up becoming a design engineer, these are crucial skills and will in one way or another help in anyone’s professional life.
But times are changing and we need to adapt. It is inevitable that digital technology will be more and more present in our lives and we shouldn’t ignore it. One start-up has a very smart approach to that. Primo Toys from London are teaching young kids how to code without the use of screens. Their first product Cubetto is an educational toy that has gained incredible popularity with parents and nurseries in just a couple of years. It is so successful because it is simple, fun and educational. Seems obvious, but it is actually very hard to combine those three values into one quality toy.
If Cubetto is “last year’s news” for you, then check out the work by Kidesign, another London-based startup, which recently launched a toy that encourages children to reconnect with their surroundings and imagination. They realised that even though kids are immersed in digital reality, there’s still one offline activity that every kid loves doing – building blanket forts and dens! We all made forts with blankets and furniture as kids and know the frustration of them always collapsing! That’s why Kidesign created Densters, which take den building to a whole new level! These cute little creatures bite, chew, grab and hang onto blankets and sheets to build dens, forts or whatever cosy hideaways kids want to make. Densters are a family of eight multitalented toy monsters that help bring kids’ imaginary worlds to life. Again, very simple, fun and educational!