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Educational Toy Company Click-A-Brick Shares Toy Industry Concerns

The team behind educational toy Click-A-Brick say they are aware of and concerned by challenges outlined by a recently released global toy market report by Daedal Research entitled Global Toys Market - Opportunities and Forecasts: 2015 Edition. The report says among the challenges faced by the global toy industry is smartphone usage. The report says there is an increasing trend among parents to replace toys in a child’s hands with a smartphone.

Between the growing number of games and apps directed specifically at children and their mobility, parents can be tempted to give their children a smartphone to keep them entertained, especially when out in public. Since parents inevitably have their phones with them, it’s easier for them to just give the child the phone sometimes rather than have to worry about bringing a toy along.

More than six in 10 US children under the age of 12 now have their own mobile device, according to a 2014 Ipsos Kids & Family Center of Excellence report while a 2013 Common Sense Media report found that US children below the age of eight spend an average of two hours a day in front of a screen.

Smartphones and other mobile devices like tablets are deemed ‘shut up toys’ in the industry and their overuse could impede toddlers' self-control and problem-solving skills, according to a recent article in the journal Pediatrics by researchers at Boston University's School of Medicine. The article recommends more in-person interaction between young children and their parents or peers, as toddlers younger than two years are known to learn best via hands-on exploration of their physical world.

Click-A-Brick Co-Founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza say the use of smartphones as so-called ‘shut up toys’ could potentially have long-lasting effects on both the toy industry and children.

“Obviously, we don’t believe that phones are going to replace toys overnight, but it’s still a concern for the toy industry in general that they are being used in this way,” Smith said. “What it does is create a sort of generational trend. If someone were given a phone to play with as a child, chances are that person would be more likely to do the same with their children and on it goes.

“And then there’s the kids who get handed these electronics and learn more about how to interact with a 2D world on a screen rather than the 3D world they live in. As big proponents of educational toys, this, of course, worries us. We tend to feel pretty confident about Click-A-Brick being able to withstand the various trends that come and go because it’s a traditional toy and it’s also a learning toy, so people like that about it. As phones get more sophisticated, though, and people slowly change the way they raise their kids, this will continue to be a concern for the toy industry and kids’ development in the coming decades.”

Among other challenges outlined by the toy industry market report were the global aging population and the general decrease in family size.