Increasingly consumers are seeing more and more coding toys on store shelves. Why?
Coding toys used to be a specialty niche not too long ago and beginning just last year we have seen them enter the mainstream. Consumers must we wondering – what gives with all the coding toys suddenly hitting store shelves?
In fact, many countries around the world including the US and UK are experiencing a shortage of qualified candidates in the field of computer science. With a skills shortage we need to introduce the next generation of kids to the world of computer programming to fill that gap. In order to do this, children need to be exposed to the basic principles at an early age so that more children can enter STEM related disciplines such as computer science. Some countries are even adding programming to their national curriculum so children’s skills and interests will be developed at a much earlier age.
In some nations, as early as the age of 5, children are learning the basics of computer science. As technology continues to become even more ubiquitous in our daily lives, this digital literacy will be beneficial to our society as a whole. Otherwise, can you imagine a world without technology? Innovation and growth would likely be at a standstill.
This is the reason behind the push for coding toys on our toy shelves. Also, it is a slice of the bigger STEM movement, which has seen an evolution from STEM to STEAM to STREAM. This year The Toy Association announced robotics into the fold, thereby creating a redefined category of STREAM. So now STREAM encompasses Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.
Big toy companies like Mattel, Fisher-Price, and Hasbro are getting into the coding game realizing the need to educate young kids with the basic principles of programming and even more are expected to join the fray as the niche expands to fulfill this unmet need. Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar was one of the first mainstream coding toys to hit the market – teaching young children about everything from sequences to algorithms and even debugging. Foundational skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and sequencing are also reinforced with these coding toys. But the real question is not whether you have a coding toy on the market – but who can do it best, providing children with the most educational value for their dollar.
Consumers will ultimately be the beneficiaries of this mass market push. Previously, you would easily spend over $130 when coding toys were just a small specialty niche. Now in contrast you can find great coding toys for as low as $35, such as Fisher-Price’s Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar. With such an affordable entry price point, naturally these toys will become more accessible to more families. In fact, STEM toys are popular among parents, which is driving the category’s overall growth. To meet parent’s growing needs even e-tailing giant, Amazon.com, has created a STEM Club service tailored to deliver STEM-related toys to families.
Even tech companies, such as Google, are participating in the creation of coding toys. Take, for example, Project Bloks which are plastic blocks driven by Raspberry Pi; they are created to teach kids programming. Google doesn’t have immediate plans to enter the toy market – rather it is simply creating a platform for developers and educators to work from.
This year we can expect a slew of hot new coding toys to hit the market. Some of the hottest coding toys to look out for this holiday season include LEGO Boost, FurReal Makers Proto Max, Dance Code Belle, Elmoji, Minion MiP Turbo Dave, Cubetto, and KamiGami. In fact, most of these toys were honored as the Best New Toys of Toy Fair 2017 by Toy Buzz. They are very likely to make the Best Toys of Christmas 2017 list. Watch for them on store shelves by this Fall 2017.