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Need expert digital and tech advice? Geeks2U are here to help. This time, we focus on creative tech toys for kids aged 8–12.
We’re all for finger-painting and colouring in... but let’s face it: these days everything has gone “next-gen” and that includes creative activities for children. Anthony Hill, Head of Technology at Geeks2U, talks us through the latest and greatest gadgets and tech toys for kids to make, create, design and explore. The future is now.
Got a mini artist on your hands? In 2020, drawing has gone digital with tablets and stylus pens replacing paper and pencils. “There are extremely good applications for drawing out there,” Anthony explains. “And you can be even more creative with a stylus. It’s easy to take anywhere and everywhere, plus, these skills translate into working life if you end up in any sort of artistic or design area.”
Wacom are the brand leading the way when it comes to drawing tablets. They make sturdy yet streamlined models that easily connect with a Mac or PC – making them kid-friendly and the perfect gift for creative kids. Or invest in an Apple pencil for scribbling and sketching on your iPad to keep both older kids and younger children busy.
Photography is an A+ hobby for kids as it’s creative, engaging and a solid skill to take into the future. You can purchase sturdy digital cameras designed as educational toys specifically for children, or investigate the popular instant camera ranges by brands like Fujifilm or Polaroid.
Another option? “All smartphones now have very good cameras in them,” says Anthony. “And you can actually get apps to edit and modify and manipulate images as well. [So you can] teach kids graphic design and photo editing as well as photography.”
Printing off their final masterpieces is a must and there are many methods for doing so: check out the Officeworks Print & Copy services or invest in an at-home photo printer.
Attention junior Spielbergs and wannabe Bong Joon Hos: “Handheld cameras are extremely good for teaching things like movie-making and animation and I’ve seen some incredibly creative things done with them,” Anthony says. Compact hands-free video cameras make great tech toys for kids as they encourage them to be outdoors and capture footage while they’re skating or surfing, combining areas of personal interest.
Want to further encourage their imagination to create? While editing and piecing together photos and videos, kids will develop problem-solving skills and also test their creative limits. These days, any child can borrow a smartphone and possibly become a movie mogul through social media, posting professional-level videos to their very own YouTube or IGTV channel. FYI: the highest paid YouTuber in 2019 was actually 8-year-old Ryan Kaji.
Hot Tip: Running out of space or needing to transfer files between devices? A flash drive is just the answer.
Everyone has a podcast these days, so why can’t your kids? Or if your children play musical instruments, what about encouraging mini maestros to record their own music? Creating a short piece of audio can be just as fun and rewarding as making a movie and all you need is a microphone, some headphones and basic sound editing software.
Rolling Stone and Slate have great tips on starting a podcast – a home recording kit will get them on the way. As for software, there are free programs you can download like GarageBand or Audacity, or stick with Adobe Audition, used by many pros in the biz.
A tablet is one of the best gadgets for kids as it means you’ve got access to some of the most creative and interactive experiences around. There are apps for absolutely everything from drawing and design, to making music, creating stories and recording videos. Screen time suddenly becomes positive and productive, and totally guilt-free for busy mums and dads.
Some of our favourite drawing apps include Drawing Challenge Game, KaleidoDraw and Sago Mini Doodlecast, while Toca Band and Mort Subotnick’s Pitch Painter win best of the music bunch. For pure fun, download Happy Street, My Story Book Maker and Toca Hair Salon Me.