Towards a hybrid future for play: integrating digital and physical experiences

Towards a hybrid future for play: integrating digital and physical experiences
Sanjay Luthra, TIE’s Chair of the Board

Children are growing up surrounded by technology from an early age. Smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles offer captivating experiences that can entertain, educate, and connect. In today’s digital age, where screens and algorithms compete for attention, the role of toys and play experiences may seem uncertain.

At a recent TIE Playmakers’ Conversation on the future of play, Sam Clough from SuperAwesome shared top insights. She discussed major trends like Artificial Intelligence, gaming, fandoms and immersive entertainment, all shaping how children play. But she also mentioned digital fatigue and a desire to stay connected with nature.

Young people nowadays move seamlessly from real life to digital, making no or little difference between the two worlds as most adults tend to do. The future of play is undoubtedly a hybrid of these two worlds. Regardless of its form, play remains essential to children’s development. And so do toys, the faithful companions of play.

As an industry, we’re well-known for our boundless creativity and adaptability. We’ve consistently embraced change, and will continue to do so. Our commitment to safety remains paramount. Just as in real life, we must ensure that digital play experiences with toys are safe, inclusive, and age-appropriate. This means prioritising privacy and security, promoting digital literacy and online safety, and designing products that cater to the diverse needs and abilities of children.

Moreover, we must remain vigilant against the potential pitfalls of excessive screen time and digital dependency. While technology can enhance play experiences, it should never replace the joys of imaginative play, outdoor exploration, and face-to-face interaction. As advocates for children’s well-being, we must encourage a healthy balance between digital and offline activities, ensuring that play remains an enriching experience.

The future is full of exciting opportunities. In embracing the dynamic interplay between digital innovation and timeless play values, we pave the way for a future where children’s imaginations soar and their joy in play knows no limits.

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