THE tricycles, dolls and model cars of yore are no longer as nearly 70% of all gifts in Spain are now digital, according to a new study.

The Rules of the Game 2019, published this week, found that sales of digital presents were up 3% in 2019, from 64% from 2018.

The new era of children’s gifts – traditionally by the Three Kings on January 6 in Spain – are closing in on a once-robust Spanish toy industry struggling to compete with the lights and action of the silver screen.

“Digital screens capture children’s imagination, but it is the common, traditional toy that brings out the best of each one’s imagination,” said Eduardo Irastorza, a profesor at the EAE Business School, and lead author of the study.

“The industry is in a moment of inflection and is forced to reinvent itself.”

Irastorza said he believed traditional games have advantages in being more ‘educational, socialising and inclusive’ than their digital counterparts.

He said that more and more children were now closing themselves in their rooms to play video games – 61% of children aged 0-12 were found to spend more than the recommended time in front of a screen. The figures ballooned for 84% of toddlers aged 0-3.

Irastorza did not blame videogames by themselves, however, adding that families had less time to spend with children and parents are having fewer children.

He said a multidisciplinary approach was needed to promote the benefits of traditional games for their ‘creativity’ in order to save the Spanish toy industry.

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