Best Electronic Learning Toys

Updated October 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

38 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
95 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best electronic learning toys

Toys have evolved considerably since we entered the digital era. While high-tech toys have been around for years, a growing category with mass appeal to parents and kids alike is electronic learning toys.

Learning can — and should be — fun, engaging, and stimulating. Electronic learning toys leverage the latest technology to deliver an unparalleled interactive experience to kids. Whether they’re practicing coding or improving their reading, kids are learning new skills every time they play. You can find electronic learning toys geared toward your child’s age, as well as toys that align with their interests and your learning goals.

If you’re wondering whether an electronic learning toy is right for your child, you’re probably wondering where to begin. To help you find the toy that checks all the boxes on your list, we invite you to read our buying guide. We share an overview of popular categories, plus we’ve included some shopping tips and recommendations to help narrow your choices.

Encourage your kids to wash their hands before using electronic learning toys. Residue from food or art and craft materials can transfer onto the toy and settle between buttons, which may affect operation.

Key considerations

Age range

Electronic learning toys are designed to appeal to specific age groups, and these are clearly marked on the packaging. This helps to make sure the toy will hold a child’s interest and align with their reading level. For example, babies and toddlers aren’t independent readers, so many of the electronic learning toys for them focus on the sounds and images of letters and words.

Many parents wonder if their kids are on the same level as the electronic learning toy they intend to buy. Some children are advanced learners for their age and capable of handling certain interactive electronic learning toys geared toward older children. Other kids need to spend more time learning how to use their electronic learning toys, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. More than anything, it means they’re gaining knowledge through reinforcement. Above all else, it’s important to keep in mind that every child learns — and plays — at a different pace.

General vs. targeted learning

Electronic learning toys can be loosely separated into two categories: general learning and targeted learning.

General learning: Toys in this group don’t have a single focus for play. Instead, they help kids hone a variety of skills at the same time. Electronic music toys, for example, teach kids basic music theory while improving their fine motor skills. These electronic learning toys present as more fun than educational, which is why many kids find them so engaging.

Targeted learning: These toys have involved designs to offer kids a focused yet fun approach to learning a particular skill or subject. STEM toys are designed to explore a specific interest in depth, like coding or robotics. Some kids warm up to these toys fairly quickly if the subject or skill interests them, though others may not find them as engaging or appealing.

Power

Electronic learning toys are powered by batteries, rechargeable batteries, or power cords. Those that require replaceable batteries cost the most to operate because you’ll need to frequently replace the batteries. One way to offset the cost is to invest in rechargeable cell batteries.

Some electronic learning toys are equipped with rechargeable lithium batteries. While you won’t need to spend money replacing batteries, you should know that each toy comes with a different charge time. For that reason, it’s recommended that you charge these toys once playtime is over or there might not be enough juice to power the toy for the next play session.

Some electronic learning toys need to be plugged into an outlet. These require far less attention than batteries, but if the power cord is short, play could be limited to the immediate area near an outlet.

Caution
Electronic learning toys may feel warm during operation, but if a toy feels too hot, turn it off immediately and discontinue use. Contact the manufacturer so the issue can be documented.
STAFF
BestReviews

Features

Popular types of electronic learning toys

There are hundreds — if not thousands — of electronic learning toys on the market today. While it’s impossible to classify all of them into distinct categories, especially since each electronic learning toy is unique, here’s an overview of the best-selling ones:

STEM toys: Perhaps the most popular electronic learning toys as of late are electronic STEM toys, which have science, technology, engineering, and/or math themes. Toys in this category are quite diverse and include robotics, coding, circuits, and building toys. Electronic math and science board games are also popular.

Robots: Robotics is a subset of STEM, but since robots are so popular, it’s worth placing them in a stand-alone group. They’re recommended for kids who truly enjoy the interactive nature of toys because these toys come to life through electronic and mechanical activities. While many parents believe these are geared toward older kids, there are now many robot and robotic toys that are designed for early learners up to age five.

Interactive reading devices: These are ideal for kids who enjoy reading but aren’t quite independent readers yet. They are designed to read to kids in a variety of ways, whether they trace the letters with an interactive pen to produce sounds or play matching games to learn the alphabet. There are also electronic books that read stories to kids.

Music toys: Electronic music toys make up quite an extensive category, including soundboard toys for babies, keyboards, digital drum sets, and even DJ equipment. They teach the basics of music theory or how to play instruments as well as help kids recognize patterns, learn to read music, and/or develop motor control.

"There are a number of art-themed electronic learning toys, including interactive drawing boards and 3D pens. They’re ideal for kids who enjoy expressing themselves with visual art and are looking for a fun alternative to regular coloring or drawing."
STAFF
BestReviews

Electronic learning toy prices

Electronic learning toys range in price from $25 to $500. The more advanced the features, settings, and interactivity, the more the toys cost.

Inexpensive: There is a wide variety of electronic learning toys that cost between $25 and $80. These include simple toys with limited functionality at the lower end of the range, as well as advanced reading and robotics toys, many of which are compatible with smartphones or tablets for extended play.

Mid-range: Advanced electronic learning toys, such as coding and robotics toys, cost between $90 and $150. Toys in this range engage kids through a wide variety of games, activities, and levels.

Expensive: The most expensive electronic learning toys cost $200 and more. These mostly include well-developed robotics toys that have a high level of interactivity. Given their advanced functionality, they often come with longer warranties or more parental controls.

Tips

  • Keep electronic toys away from moisture. Electronic learning toys are durable, but it’s still a good idea to keep them far away from water and moisture. More often than not, the user manuals for these toys recommend only indoor play, too.
  • Save the purchase and warranty information. Save the documentation for expensive electronic learning toys. Some of them also come with a serial number that can be registered on the manufacturer’s website.
  • Clean the toys carefully. Most electronic learning toys can be cleaned with alcohol wipes. Those with screens or more delicate pieces may require special care, which should be detailed in the user manual.
If your electronic learning toy is compatible with smartphones or tablets, make sure these devices have updated software. Otherwise, you may experience compatibility issues when it comes to syncing or interactive play.

FAQ

Q. Does my child need electronic learning toys if they’re already using a computer?
A.
Yes, especially if you’re looking for toys that give kids a break from screen time. Many electronic learning toys offer more hands-on learning because they have more pieces, buttons, or articulating parts to manipulate.
 

Q. Are electronic learning toys available in multiple languages?
A.
Some electronic learning toys are equipped with a few language modes besides English, usually Spanish or French. You’ll need to change the settings manually, and in some toys you’ll need to do a factory reset to go back to English.
 

Q. Are electronic learning toys designed for boys or girls?
A.
Electronic learning toys tend to have universal appeal, so both boys and girls can enjoy them. While some may be geared more toward one gender or the other, at the end of the day, virtually any child can play with them.

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