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Tech Vs. Toys

The Dart investigates the ‘iPad kid’ epidemic during this Holiday Season.
Hensons+son%2C+Jack%2C+plays+with+technology.+Photo+Courtesy+of+Sarah+Henson.+
Henson’s son, Jack, plays with technology. Photo Courtesy of Sarah Henson.

As Christmas lists pile up and parents scavenge for the best deals, technology will somehow earn a place in Holiday crazes, whether that be an iPad for a 6-year old or a Fitbit for Mom. The recent addition of all these gadgets on want lists prompts the question: Have iPads and phones taken prominence in children’s lives over conventional Christmas toys?
Recently, technology–ranging from Tamagotchi to a high end iPad Pro–has been on many kids’ Christmas lists. History teacher and parent of Jack, 5, Sarah Henson notices technology’s effects on children’s toys.
“More toys are having tech components to them now,” Henson said. “It’s hard to get a toy that’s just a toy anymore.”
Jack is intrigued by technology, like many other young children. Henson guesses his interest may come from the immediate dominance given to him; he is in control. Not many children get to have much control elsewhere.
“Jack likes not only playing games but switching from app to app, so he can see an immediate effect,” Henson said. “It’s instant gratification.”
Despite this addictive aspect, many kids still enjoy the less technological toys. The selling of toys in the U.S has generated about $29.2 billion in 2022, according to the Toy Association.
“So far, [for Christmas] Jack wants a baby Yoda Squish Mallow and a remote control tank,” Henson said.
Though this is Jack’s Christmas list, other kids long for technology during the holidays. Those who possess and obsess over their electronics are known as “iPad kids.”
The term “iPad kids” is used by young people in the media to poke fun at children who only find entertainment through their technology. This idea can be cruel, but gadgets have become an obsession for most kids because of instant gratification and societal standards,especially online. Henson feels these standards around the holiday season.
“There is a lot of pressure on social media, but not so much in my personal life,” Henson said. “You see all of these parents giving their kids big gifts.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             As Jack gets older, Henson can see him asking for more technology on his Christmas and birthday wish lists, as most children do.                       “Jack will 100% want more technology when he is older,” Henson said. “A lot of his friends want iPads, so he is like ‘I want one.’”
With this taken into account, Henson believes that technology can be great learning tools for young children and for parents to entertain their kids with.
“Jack has my old cell phone with parental controls and kid-appropriate games,” Henson said. “Tech can be beneficial, like games that cause them to use their imaginations more.”
If parents decide to purchase technology of some sort, many, like Henson, decide to establish balance in their child’s life between the gadget and real life.
“In our house we try to set a limit on screen time,” Henson said. “Whether it’s watching TV or playing games on the phone, we will tell him no more screens, time for toys.”                                                                                                                                                                                                             This dependency on technology makes many parents nervous, including Henson.
“The big tech thing that scares me is I don’t want him to get addicted,” Henson said. “That’s probably inevitable, but not when he is five.”
The unnerving thought of technology’s effect on kids’ lives is one reason why conventional toys have always been a priority on parents’ shopping lists.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             “I am really big on always playing with blocks or art projects,” Henson said. “I like toys that encourage their imaginations.”
Another reason for conventional toys’ prominence during the holidays is that technology for kids is a fairly recent phenomenon.                         “When I was a kid there was no tech,” Henson said. “I think the Light Bright was the most advanced. When I got to middle school, a Cabbage Patch doll came out that you could feed, but that was pretty much it.”
Today’s parents may not know dangerous aspects of technology because it was not a part of their lives, but Henson believes that it is important to teach parents how to safely and positively introduce technology to their child’s lives.
“It can be hard,” Henson said. “Sometimes the best solution is to say ‘Let’s go play outside!’ where there are no toys or tech.”

 

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Stella Baska, Staff Writer
Hey, Vogue (or a smaller, equally good publication)! My name is Stella Baska. I’m a sophomore and this is my very first year on The Dart. I love reading, playing sports and watching sitcoms, my favorite being “New Girl” or “Community.” My go-to coffee order is an iced latte with lavender syrup, which will be a necessity in my next year of being a staff member. Have the best day!

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