As parents, we only want the best for our kids. We do our best to keep them happy and safe. We try to give them every opportunity to succeed in life. We realize that childhood is such an important time - for both kids and parents - and we aim to make the most of it. So when the holidays roll around, many of us create a shopping list to give our kids the best Christmas or Hanukkah possible. And it is inevitable that somewhere on that list - despite our best efforts - are dumb toys.
You know the ones I'm talking about. They come in many different varieties - obnoxious toys, toys that just sit there, toys that you just smash together, disgustingly gross toys, and - the dumbest of them all - those toys that you don't event know what they are supposed to do or why your child wants them. It wasn't always this way. As parents, we look back fondly on our own toys as "so much better than what our kids have now". This isn't a knock on imaginative play. We played with sticks and dressed up in costumes when we were kids (The cardboard box is an amazing toy! You could make a castle or a fort or even a car with it! The cardboard box is in the Toy Hall of Fame!)
But the problem is today's toys aren't about imaginative play; they are about mindless play. And when you introduce apps into the equation, the problem gets so much worse. Look at games like Candy Crush and you see children that are zombies; it may not actually be making them dumber but, if nothing else, it is a missed opportunity to help make them smarter.
When we saw our kids playing with their toys, we realized we were missing an opportunity to help give them a headstart on learning. Our kids were naturally curious about the world around them. But my daughter Sophia's Barbie dolls weren't helping to answer her questions about how lightning is made . And Asher's cars that he loved to smash together weren't helping him to understand how bees made the honey he was having for breakfast. And Jake's pirate sword (that he was using to hit his sister) wasn't answering his questions about how to count money. We had a pile of toys (as you can see below) and none of them were helping to make our kids smarter.
But the straw that broke the camel's back for me was when I saw my amazing daughter building virtual cupcakes on an iPad. That made me so sad. Our children are so wonderful and we wanted to help give them something more.
That's why we created TROBO. We wanted to give kids a lovable companion to help them learn about all of the amazing science and engineering around them. They may not necessarily do chemistry experiments or build their own cars tomorrow but we wanted to inspire curiosity. We wanted them to keep asking questions. In the past few years, there have been some amazing new toys for older kids including Roominate, Goldieblox and Little Bits. These are all fantastic toys that certainly inspired us, but our kids were 2 and 5 years old. There wasn't (and still isn't) anything on the market for them to play with that would help them to have fun and learn. And the apps - still geared towards older kids - were such a 2D experience. Yes, even the "3D" apps still lacked that connection - the emotional link - that is just not possible with an app on a screen. So we created 2 lovable characters - Newton and Curie - that would not only be a child's teacher, but also their friend. A friend they could dress up, tell stories about, and use their imagination. But most importantly, a toy that would always serve as a reminder of what an amazing world we live in and how it got that way.
There's a lot of competition out there. (Dumb toys tend to have bigger marketing budgets than smart toys.) But as parents, it's important to cut through the clutter and find those toys that really matter. We hope that during this holiday season, you will pass up the temptation to pacify your child with another dumb toy and maybe take a look at TROBO. Help us to help you make smarter kids.