Scouted selects products independently. If you purchase something from our posts, we may earn a small commission.
According to the experts, kids between the ages of four and 18 should never have more than two hours of screen time per day. And as for kids under three? Yeah, they’re not really supposed to have any screen time. Like… at all. But we get it; expert advice aside, getting kids off screens and, say, outside for a hike or bike ride is often easier said than done. This helps to explain why, according to data we sourced from the CDC, many kids in America spend a gut-wrenching 7.5 hours looking at a screen each and every day.
To help you help your kid (or your nephew, granddaughter, or whoever it may be) spend less time staring at a screen and, more to the point, to achieve that goal without conflict, we have rounded up a number of great toys that are not only pure fun, but that will also engage the same parts of the brain that crave stimulation in a technology-oriented youngster, albeit without the passivity that many screen-oriented activities include.
Tried and tested, well-reviewed and parent-approved, and expert-recommended, here are the best tech-centric toys that make great gifts for kids—not a screen in sight. (OK, except for the one you’re looking at right now.)
The Toniebox is one of the most brilliant devices we’ve seen in years, and it’s one kids will love from their youngest years through to, well, always. That’s because the content a Toniebox can play ranges from nursery rhymes and stories for toddlers to audio adaptations of Disney movies to the rich telling of stories ranging from the classics (think “Treasure Island”) to the more recent (as in “The Gruffalo”) to educational nonfiction content. Audio tracks are played, paused, skipped, or repeated by gentle taps on the side of the device, so even young kids can operate a Toniebox, and it can be used with headphones, so it’s great for the car, for travel, or for quiet times.
Botley the Coding Robot 2.0
Down from $64
Yep, that’s right, this little robot from Learning Resources can teach kids to code, and no screens are required. How? Because with Botley 2.0 (a slight upgrade from the O.G. Botley), kids use a series of physical cards with instructions printed on them to “program” the robot’s actions. It can also be controlled via remote control for classic robot fun.
FLUESTON LCD Writing Tablet 10 Inch Doodle Magic Board
Remember those magnetic drawing tablets you had as a kid? The ones that created rough gray images by drawing iron dust-up against that gray matte screen? This is that but reinvented for the next generation. These LCD tablets can be used for drawing, doodles, handwriting practice, tic-tac-toe, math work, and a thousand other uses, and they can be used repeatedly as a quick press of a button clears the screen.
GeoSafari Jr. Talking Interactive Globe
This beautifully colored and illustrated globe would be welcome in any kid’s bedroom, playroom, or study space simply for its looks and accurate depiction of our physical and political world. But it’s jam-packed with information, trivia challenges, and geography games, all engaged via an included stylus, which makes it a true winner. And we love that much of the content is voiced by Bindi Irwin, too.
3Doodler Start+ Essentials 3D Pen Set for Kids
A perfect gift for the budding inventor, artist, or engineer—or, better yet, for a kid with all three interests—this easy-to-use 3D pen lets kids literally “draw” in three dimensions. It can create all sorts of objects, from DIY jewelry to mini action figures to game pieces to anything a young mind wants to create.
Elenco Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit
A Snap Circuits kit is one of the finest tech toys because it takes a young tinkerer under the proverbial hood of things. Sure, we all know that when you flip a switch, you complete a circuit and turn on a light, but there’s nothing like a child building his or her circuit and then seeing it work as a bulb illuminates.
Ravensburger GraviTrax XXL Starter Set Marble Run
Yes, playing with a GraviTrax set will help teach kids the fundamentals of physics, like the power of gravity, how actions and reactions interrelate, how there are many times of energy, like potential and kinetic energy, and so on. And yes, it will also strengthen their executive functioning skills as they work out engineering problems, plan ahead, troubleshoot, and refine their designs. But the budding engineers won’t even realize any of that—they’ll just be having fun.
Sphero Specdrums (2 Rings) App-Enabled Musical Rings
With the two little rings and the included color-coded pad you get with a Sphero Specrums kit, kids can tap out beats and melodies and create some truly beautiful music. Yes, this kit uses a screen, but only to pair the hardware and display the type of “instrument” each pad area will play when tapped with a Specdrums ring.
MindWare Gearjits: Treasure Box—Wooden 3D Building Puzzle
This 3D wooden puzzle will be a satisfying challenge for older kids and teens (and adults—we know from experience). But that’s only part of the fun: unlike a standard puzzle that’s only good for viewing once completed, this MindWare kit makes a functional treasure box complete with a combination lock and keys.
A great way to get older kids or teens off their computer or phone and outside, this drone is a perfect choice for novice pilots, so to speak. It’s easy to fly with video game-like controls and the drone can be operated via voice commands. While we know we’re avoiding screens here, it’s a bit different of a situation when you pair a smartphone to this plucky little flier to see the view through its camera.
Lectric e-Bikes XP Step-Thru 3.0 Black
Down from $1099
Do you want the ultimate tech “toy” that’s perfect for teens and adults? Give them an e-bike that’s fun and exhilarating and promotes outdoor activity and moderate exercise too. The XP 3.0 can zip along in pedal-assist mode or operate in throttle-only mode, so it’s a great way to get in a light workout or a great commuter bike for the high schooler, college kid, or urban professional. This is also a great gift for a mom or dad to “give” himself or herself, as the bike can be fitted with a rear seat that can support a passenger.
MORE FROM SCOUTED:
Don’t forget to check out our coupon site to find more tech deals, including HP coupons, Samsung coupons, Best Buy coupons, and NordVPN coupons.