Find traditional, educational and award-winning toys for teens.
While videogames might seem like the only toys for teens, many other options are available. Successful toys for teens embrace elements that have a special appeal to teenagers -- such as electronics, sports, science, fashion or music -- and yet are still packaged as toys. LovetoKnowKids, a parenting Web site, explains that teenagers still want toys -- even if the toy is something as sophisticated as an iPod.
Toys for teens don't have to be fancy or expensive. Some traditional games for younger children have a counterpart for older kids. Lego's Creator 3 is a highly rated teenage game that comes with 731 pieces used to construct elaborate dinosaurs. Along the same lines, the popular Rubik's cube has a techno version to appeal to teens.
Depending on the teen's age, it may not be necessary to reinvent the wheel. A 2008 NPD market research study on children's toy use found that teen girls still play with traditional toys at age 12 and even older. In fact, more than 50 percent of the girls in the study reported playing with dolls up to age 15, according to Playthings, a trade magazine devoted to children's toys. The bottom line: While girls are moving to some degree into playing virtual online games, they still enjoy traditional toys, even into their teens. This can be true of boys, too.
Toymakers are embracing the fact that teens are a tech-savvy demographic. According to Playthings, retailers of teen toys try to blend technological elements into toys, with the understanding that most teens spend time on the computer and Internet. For example, Mega Brands' Neo Shifters consists of action figures with comic books that are linked to an online world. Such Web-integrated toys work the other way as well, as popular teen Web sites prompt toys that are connected to the Internet experience.
Kaboose, a parenting Web site, gives annual awards for the best teen toys. Among the winners are electronic, sports related and music toys. Winners in 2008 included:
TDmonthly, another trade magazine for toys, lists other toys that have received recent parenting awards, including Jishaku, a strategy game where markers can jump out of position at any time on their own. Like many toys for teens, the game combines the familiar elements of a traditional board game with technical innovation that is more likely to retain the interest of teenagers. Using the Slooh Kids Volume 2 Activity Book, kids can launch celestial objects into space using the Slooh mission card and the Internet.
For teens who enjoy electronic games, Guitar Hero: On Tour for Nintendo DS is a bestseller. The game is difficult enough to maintain a teen's interest and, using a wireless network, a player can "battle" a friend in a different location.
Amazon.com provides lists and forums devoted to teen toys. On its list are slingshots and an urban myth board game. Top Toys for Kids has a selection of popular toys for teenagers, including a Discovery Space Projection Alarm Clock that projects space images onto ceilings.