TDmonthly Magazine!
September 2004 | Vol. III - No. 9


Electronic Learning for Kids: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Article Synopsis
  • In the toy industry´s 21 billion dollar industry, Electronic learning toys account for 10% of annual sales
  • Manufacturers are creating Electronic learning toys for infants
  • Playing equals learning


Electronic learning toys currently account for nearly 10% of annual sales in the $21 billion toy industry. Overall, educational toys are the fastest growing segment in the toy industry. Current trends within the electronic learning toy segment include:

Age Segmentation

Lisa Mancuso, vice president of marketing at Fisher-Price, says development of preschool toys has been big in the past few years. Manufacturers are furthering this trend by designing electronic learning toys for infants.

“Birth to twelve months is a full-fledged segment for electronic learning right now,” says VTech’s Vice President of Marketing, Julia Fitzgerald. VTech’s new line, Brainy Baby (ToyShow), is a 14-toy series, including 7 pairs of left- and right-brain products. The right brain products encourage creativity, while the left-brain products foster the child’s logic development.

New presentation formats

According to Mancuso, the electronic learning toy maker’s challenge is to create fun and engaging toys with an intuitive interface that allow for seamless use by the child. The search for attractive formats never ends.

Fitzgerald agrees, stating a common philosophy: “What are ways to make electronic learning as entertaining as possible, so that the children really think that all they’re doing is playing, and what the parents know is happening is that they’re really learning?” VTech’s new Vsmile toy, targeted at three to seven year-olds, uses Smartridges to look and play like a video game. The toy blends electronic learning with video gaming, something kids love to do.


Fisher-Price is releasing InteracTV in July. The toy allows kids to interact with popular TV characters from shows such as “Blue’s Clues,” “Dora the Explorer,” “Sesame Street,” and “Sponge Bob.” Using a wireless controller and the InteracTV DVD, the child is able to respond to the character’s invitation to interact by pressing corresponding icons displayed on the controller. Additional DVD titles are sold separately.

Toy Packages

Children learn better when their toys match their developing abilities, and toy manufacturers are crafting new toys that target this need. InteracTV addresses this consumer demand. Such toys track the child’s developing skills, by providing a series of increasingly advanced modules, and giving better value for the expenditure of the entire toy system for parents.


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