Barbie has turned into a Teletubby. The Barbie Photo Fashion Doll has a screen on her belly so your kids can take a picture of themselves — or the cat’s bowl or your underwear drawer — and display it on Barbie’s tummy-screen.
The New York Times reported yesterday that all sorts of classic toys are being revamped and retooled to “entertain technology-obsessed children.”
Among the changes, the digital version of The Game of Life requires use of your iPad as the spinner, complete with the tick-tick-tick noise of the “classic” plastic spinner we used as kids. Also, reports a Wired review by “Geek Dad,” the chance to watch “America’s Funniest Videos” while you play.
For the love of God, why?
Now, lest you think this is going to turn into a rant about the abundance of our children’s screen time and the loss of the classic all-American, made-in-China plastic spinner and Barbie torsos of yore, I am not opposed to the addition of technology to toys per se.
I may not be all that comfortable handing over an iPad to a bunch of grubby-fingered 7-year-olds for the hour it takes to play The Game of Life, digital version. And I’ve seen my share of Barbie heads in couch cushions and entire naked dolls left out in the rain.
It makes me wonder exactly when we decided to hand over technology, often expensive and usually easily destructible, to children. Especially since I have no idea how my iPod got the tip of the ear bud connector-thingy broken off into it. (Apple’s estimated cost to repair it: $70. Okay, then never mind.)
So handing over an iPhone to use as guns in Hasbro’s Nerf Laser Tag system makes my eye twitch. I picture myself, face plastered to the window overlooking our backyard, watching the iPhone-adapted guns getting chucked to the ground all because Colin found a gartner snake under the wood pile and everybody suddenly wants to have a look-see.
According to the New York Times, “that many [digitally adapted toys] require expensive iPads or smartphones to work, analysts say their potential is limited.”
Yes, along with parents’ patience and that churning, burning feeling in our stomachs that goes away only when our devices are returned safely from our children’s hands and the wood pile in the backyard.
What do you think? Do our kids’ toys need to be digitally enhanced?