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Electronic toys are so much more than just screens to stare at. Whether you're introducing your toddler to technology or teaching your teenager STEM basics, like coding, there are a lot of fun electronic toys that can help your child learn while they play.
Not sure where to start? We've rounded up some great options that will interest kids of all ages to explore technology in a safe, age-appropriate way. While you shop, be sure to consider each pick's recommended age, safety features, educational value, and price.
Here are the best electronic toys for kids.
Best Overall: Wonder Workshop Dash Coding Robot
This cute blue robot has been heralded as one of the best STEM toys out there, and it’s easy to see why! The Wonder Workshop Dash Robot teaches kids ages 6 and up how to code, all while singing, dancing, playing, and having tons of fun.
Dash connects to a free app where kids can teach their robot all sorts of tricks, from lighting up to avoiding obstacles and even responding to voice commands. The app includes hundreds of puzzles and projects, so you can rest assured kids won’t get tired of Dash any time soon.
If you think it sounds too complicated, don’t worry—the app includes tutorials to teach children the fundamentals of coding and how to program the robot. Dash’s educational value and limitless fun earned it the Oppenheim Best Toy Award in 2016, and it’s one of our top picks for electronic toys this year.
Best Coding: Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar Toy
It may just look like a happy little caterpillar, but the Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar Toy is much more. This critter is a puzzle waiting to be solved, as its nine switchable segments control the caterpillar’s movements. Want the Code-a-Pillar to go straight, then turn left? Arrange the segments in that order, then watch it come to life!
This electronic toy can help young children practice their critical thinking skills, as they can experiment with different sequences to create new paths for the Code-a-Pillar. As kids get the hang of it, they can create new games, such as drawing paths for the bug to follow or specifying an endpoint for it to reach. The possibilities are endless, which means this toy will continue challenging kids for years to come.
Best Camera: VTech KidiZoom Camera Pix
If your children are always borrowing your phone or camera to take pictures, this toy is a must-have. The VTech Kidizoom Camera Pix is a durable digital camera designed for kids ages 3 to 8, and it makes a great gift for all the budding artists out there.
The Kidizoom Camera is a real digital camera that stores photos on an SD memory card (not included). In addition to standard features like zoom, this gadget comes with a selfie mode, collage templates, photo effects, and several built-in games. And because it’s designed for little hands, the camera is plenty durable and can withstand being dropped.
If you’re looking for a toy that will foster creativity and keep children occupied for hours, the Kidizoom Camera certainly fits the bill!
Best Tablet: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
Amazon's kid-centric tablet is always a hot gift and this year, there's a new version—the Fire HD 8. The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet features an 8-inch screen surrounded by a kid-proof case, and perhaps best of all, Amazon is offering a two-year guarantee on the tablet with no questions asked.
The Kids Edition Tablet is a real tablet with ten hours of battery life, but it was designed for the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of children. The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is recommended for children ages 3 and up, and it comes loaded with one free year of Freetime Unlimited, which lets kids access age-appropriate games, apps, and videos from sites like PBS, Disney, and more.
The tablet comes with built-in parental controls that can limit screen time and filter out inappropriate content, but one of the biggest selling points for this tablet over other options is Amazon’s two-year guarantee. If your kids break the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, simply return it and Amazon will replace it. No questions asked!
Best Truck: VTech Drop and Go Dump Truck
This adorable toy dump truck has rave reviews from users, so you know it will be a great gift for kids age 6 months to 3 years. The VTech Drop and Go Dump Truck is equal parts fun and educational, and its colorful design and fun melodies will keep toddlers captivated.
What makes it so entertaining? The Drop and Go Dump Truck will count its three bright boulders as toddlers put each one into the toy, and it’s easy to dump them back out again with the pull of a lever. Kids can pull the truck around the house using the attached string, and there are several buttons on the vehicle that play melodies and phrases to help toddlers learn about colors and tools.
Another added bonus is that you can turn down the volume if you get tired of listening to the same sounds again and again—it’s the little things!
Best Drone: GoolRC Mini RC Quadcopter
Let your kids’ imagination take flight with the GoolRC T36 Mini RC Quadcopter Drone. This 3-inch drone is heralded as a great option for beginners thanks to its stable flight system, which makes it easy for kids to learn to fly.
The Mini RC Quadcopter Drone is small enough to fly in the house, but it can be controlled from up to 30 meters away, making it a fun outdoor toy too. Fly the drone up and down, forward and back with the touch of a button, and once kids get the hang of things, they can try out some impressive tricks, such as in-air flips!
One downside of this mini drone is that you only get around five minutes of flight time, so kids will have to recharge if they want to play for longer. However, the reasonable price and easy-to-learn controls make the Mini RC Quadcopter Drone a great starter toy for novice flyers.
Best Walkie Talkie: Retevis RT628 Kids Walkie Talkies 22 Channel
Remember how much fun you used to have running around with walkie talkies when you were little? Well, these classic toys provide just as much enjoyment to kids today. The Retevis RT628 Kids Walkie Talkies make a great gift for children 3 and up, letting them play secret agent, explorers, and as many other games as they can dream up.
These walkie talkies from Retevis are easy to use and small enough for little hands to carry. They have a range of upward of 3,000 feet and include 22 different channels, but you can lock the channel for younger children so they don’t accidentally change it.
You’ll get two walkie talkies from the seller, but it’s easy to add more receivers if your kids want to play with their friends or if you want to keep tabs on what they’re doing.
What to Look for in Electronic Toys
Not every electronic toy is designed for all ages. Simpler toys are more popular with younger kids, while more complex toys and activities that require design or manipulation are a good option for older kids and teens. Fortunately, kids of all ages can find an electronic toy geared just for them.
It is important to consider your child’s safety when choosing an electronic toy. Not only is there the potential for danger with cords, batteries, and power supplies, but for toys that connect to the internet, you should also be aware of the material that they access. Electronic toys are a great way to start talking about the responsible and safe use of technology with your child.
Electronic toys can be a great way to teach kids, especially when they are geared toward STEM-related interests like coding or math. Some are designed more for entertainment and play, such as a drone. Others have a good balance of the two, like the Amazon Fire tablet that has both education and entertainment apps.
To get the most educational value, Teacher and Literacy Coach Alicia Drozd recommends looking for interactive toys. “It needs to be something that they create and build. Apps are great, as long as they are creating and not just consuming.”
Electronic toys can be bigger financial investments. Before you purchase, consider how much use your child will get from the toy, how likely it is to be broken or need to be replaced, and if it can grow with your child. Less-expensive electronic toys tend to have shorter lifespans than the heavy-hitting expensive options.
How do you dispose of electronic toys?
If your electronic toys still work and are still in good condition, the best thing you can do with them is to donate them to a thrift store or toy charity. But if your toys have seen better days, or are no longer functional, check to see if the toy manufacturer has a toy recycling program. If not, break down the toy and recycle its respective parts.
Are electronic toys good for children?
Electronic toys offer a high level of engagement and are great tools for teaching older kids about technology and design. However, for younger kids, sticking with non-electronic toys may be a safer bet, as they've been shown to better promote language development than electronic toys.
How do you clean electronic toys?
Kids' toys—especially little kids' toys—can get dirty fast. The easiest way to clean them is by wiping them down with a sanitizing wipe and avoiding any electronic components. If you need a deeper spot clean, use a clean cloth dipped in warm, soapy water.
Why Trust The Spruce
Camryn Rabideau is a freelance writer who has a background in interior design. She’s an expert on all things home, and while researching picks for this article, she considered the material of each piece, as well as its size, stability, and any useful features, such as cable management holes. Additional reporting was done by Rabekah Henderson, a freelance design and decor writer whose work has appeared on MyDomaine, Atomic Ranch, Cary Magazine and American Farmhouse Style.