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The advent of technology in toys: From play to play learning

India has one of the smallest people in the world. India’s toy industry is in the growth phase with a large consumer base of 500 million strong young people. According to IMARC, part of the study, it is estimated that the Indian toy industry costs more than ₹ 10,000 crores. Over the past few years, there has been a shift from regular toys to new toys that require the production of old and educational toys.

Recently, the Indian Government Toy Fair was held with the aim of bringing the government and the industry together to find a way to make India the next global centre for the production and acquisition of toys, as India currently imports more than $ 600 million toys from China. The global toy industry is estimated to be worth about $ 90 billion, while the Indian toy market, at a retail price, is only about $ 450 million.

Play is said to be an integral part of a child’s early development and toys are the centrepiece and most popular symbol. At first glance the size of the role of the toys may seem small, it is just a way to transfer a lot of energy to the kids, however, the deeper look paints a different picture. Research reveals that children learn to use toys and resources metaphorically, develop consistent and complex narratives, observe rules and roles, and organize play games from start to finish thus learning critical thinking, negotiating and problem-solving skills in the process.

While children are less likely to be distracted by toys, parents should also be aware of them. In fact, many trends in the toy industry are driven by a change in parental expectations. There is a growing sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) for parents, so they look for opportunities to make play more educational and learning-driven.

The world is focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). According to the National Science Foundation, it is predicted that 80% of jobs created over the next decade will require some form of 21st-century skills or STEM skills. Research also shows that children develop an interest in STEM fields from the age of eight.

Keeping the above facts in mind, here are some ways to change the toy industry:

DIY kits and toys are ready

Old toys playing with toys help involve the senses rather than learning about doctrine. While repaired toys have been commonplace from previous years, a recent report revealed that the global STEM toy market for profits is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7% during the period 2020-2025.

The reason behind the growing number of parents now opting for STEM-based toys or DIY kits is because this provides a learning, hands-on learning experience for students or children. This helps them to understand basic concepts in areas such as mathematics and science and provides a comprehensive approach. DIY kits have helped young minds become the creators of these toys and not just their customers. In addition, the hands-on learning model works to instil various qualities of a child’s health skills such as confidence, perseverance, problem solving and communication.

Next-gen technology and toys

The new concept of reading reveals that children learn best in an interactive environment. So next-generation technology learning tools have replaced blackboards, textbooks and homework. This allows them to learn deep thinking, mathematics, art, and real-time examples. Toys reinforcement allows children to learn critical lessons by playing games. This approach enhances a child’s thinking and prepares him for the future. Next-gen technologies such as AI, AR and VR transform the learning environment, allowing children to remain students for life. While children are learning they still have fun without realizing how much they are learning.

The toy industry recognizes the growing need for smart STEM toys through cloud-based artificial software platforms. They offer scientific genius, an important skill that not only creates better career opportunities in the STEM field but also helps overall mental development.

Hyper Customization

In contrast to the typical toy model where the child is the consumer, STEM and DIY kits and toys enable customization and design, not only for the makers of the kits but for the children themselves. In new toys of age, children should get their hands dirty; use their cognitive skills to look at different parts, think about what they want to do in their minds and make their vision come true by bringing different parts together.

Customization is not only sustainable but also conveys a child’s creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, strengthens problem-solving skills and gives them the confidence to do things and breaks the stereotype that ‘STEM / Science is difficult’.

Short screen time

In an increasingly digital world, one cannot underestimate the value of toys that are offline. Screens and electronics have become an integral part of children’s lives, especially since the outbreak of the epidemic, which makes it even more important to have some time on the screen for eye and mental refreshment. Therefore, parents, today want toys that emphasize both physical and mental activity. STEM toys will provide a balanced education and amount of fun for children and ensure a healthy screen time for children.

Sustainability

The increasing level of thinking among people in introducing a sustainable lifestyle goes hand in hand with the growth of sustainable practices in the global STEM toy market. Since these toys give you the ability to customize, children do not get bored easily with these toys because there are so many ways to build something and thus extend their life span. Over time, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers have taken note of this concept. It is important to create sustainable products that keep the environment in mind. This in principle helps with the reuse and minimal use of plastics, making it safer for the child.

This article was written by Pooja Goyal, COO & Co-founder of Avishkaar.

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