2017 Technology Holiday Gift Guide for the Kids

12/02/2017 12:19 pm ET

Let’s get two things straight. First, Christmas and Hanukkah are still mostly about the kids. Second, kids are growing up in the greatest period of technology innovation the world has ever known, and they embrace everything from phones and drones to 3D printers and gaming consoles. Kids love tech gadgets and there’s no shortage of cool and innovative gifts available for all ages this holiday season.

I’ve curated an impressive roundup of the best tech gifts for children and teens. Remember, not all tech gifts need to be about gaming. There are some wonderful educational gift ideas on this list too. Remember, check online for the latest bargains and don’t forget that when the little ones go to sleep you can use their new tech toys!

Roland GO:PIANO – When a child is exposed to music at a young age, it stimulates brain development. As we all know, however, piano lessons can be quite costly. Thankfully, modern technology has lowered the price of entry. For right around $300, the GO:PIANO from Roland will save you money on piano lessons and you won’t need to invest in that expensive baby grand piano. Boasting 61 full size piano keys, the GO:PIANO connects via Bluetooth to a mobile app loaded with lessons. This is perfect for a musical novice of any age. https://www.roland.com/us/products/gopiano_go-61p/

ARRMA 4x4 RC Truck -This RC truck, which comes in either Granite or Senton, is exactly what every parent wished they had when they were kids. It’s rugged, unstoppable and waterproof. My kids have used it in the rain with no problem and it’s easy to clean after driving through muddy terrain. I’ll admit that I grabbed the controller from my son at one point and felt nostalgic about racing RC cars in my youth. Nothing ever went this fast though. Comes right out of the box and is ready to go 30 MPH. A great deal for $239. https://www.arrma-rc.com/

Garmin Disney Vivofit Jr. 2 - There’s no denying the power of Disney when it comes to kids. The Vivofit uses that influence to get children active. These wearable bands feature popular Disney characters and unlock new adventures when your kid hits 60 minutes of daily exercise. There’s something in it for you, too. You can integrate their daily chores via the mobile app. https://explore.garmin.com/en-US/vivo-fitness/#kids

Fisher Price Think & Learn – Buy your toddler a tablet and you’ll be able to use yours in peace. The Think & Learn combines Fisher Price’s excellent reputation for educational material with a durable, tablet. It features 35 apps running on Android software and a kid-friendly marketplace. This is a great way to teach kids numbers and phonics, but be sure to limit their screen time. https://www.toysrus.com/product?productId=105716926

Piper Computer Kit – If I told you that your 8-14 year old could build a computer, you’d be skeptical. Piper, however, makes this idea a reality with a kit that will foster your kid’s creativity and ingenuity. Once assembled, the Minecraft game will further develop those all important STEM skills. https://www.buildpiper.com/pages/piper-computer-kit

Lumos Bicycle Helmet – With winter upon us dusk arrives earlier, and you may worry about your kid (or teen) riding a bike. The Lumos is a smart helmet that lights up with front lights, back lights and turning signals. Make sure the rider in your family can be seen by cars at all times. I demand that my kids wear the Lumos helmet no matter how far they plan to ride their bicycles. https://lumoshelmet.co

3Doodler Star Trek Create & Project Kit – My kids have enjoyed 3Doodler’s products for years. These pens allow them to create three-dimensional objects, without being subjected to many of the toxic chemicals of other 3D instruments. For the Trekkie on your list, give them a chance to make everything from their own Spock Ears to a model Enterprise. http://www.the3Doodler.com

Pai Technology Augie Augmented Reality Robot – AR is the next big thing in tech, combining virtual reality with real world applications. Pai Technology’s “Augie” teaches kids how to code, something that many schools are starting to make mandatory. When the world of the app pairs with reality and the robot moves exactly as they programmed, the sense of pride and accomplishment your kids will feel is immeasurable. https://www.pai.technology/

Dromida Kodo FPV Drone– FPV stands for “first person viewer.” This drone’s unique selling point is the VR Goggles you can pair with a smartphone to see the world through the eyes of your drone in real-time. Also, at less than $100, this is a very reasonably priced entry point into the drone market for kids (even though adults will love it too). https://www.dromida.com

Polar A370 Smartwatch – We are battling a juvenile obesity epidemic in this country and kids are also getting less sleep than they should. Polar’s A370 monitors activity, heart rate, sleep and more on a 24/7 basis. It’s also waterproof and can help teach kids the importance of healthy habits. While Polar’s smartwatches are meant for both adults and kids, I’ve found that this durable wearable is ideal for kids because it will last long despite the wear and tear. https://www.polar.com

Kodak Printomatic Instant Print Camera – I love this camera because of its simplicity. It combines the convenience of a digital camera with the ability to have instant prints. There’s no computer or Wi-Fi connection necessary and no ink needed. With a 10 MP camera, this is the perfect gift for the kid who’s getting into photography and wants to hold end result in the palm of his or her hand. When my teenage son went to Washington on a school trip recently, this made the perfect camera to take along. It’s durable, takes great photos and is so easy to use (with instant gratification). http://www.kodak.com/go/printomatic

Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 - While most people brush their teeth the recommended two times daily, many of us fall short with the way in which we brush. Dentists recommend two full minutes of brushing and offer tips on angle and pressure. Oral-B offers you real-time feedback with this smart toothbrush’s Bluetooth connected mobile app. Good oral hygiene leads to better overall health, making this extremely useful for kids and grown-ups alike. I find this is the ideal electric toothbrush for young people who tend to cheat on the 2 minute minimum (or don’t have the concept of 2 minutes). Parents will also gain the peace of mind that their little ones are actually brushing all of their teeth. https://oralb.com

Bionik Power Plate Duo for Nintendo Switch – My kids love their Nintendo Switch and this charger is wonderful because it charges the Switch AND up to 4 Joy-Con controllers. Game enthusiasts will love this and so will parents who won’t “have to turn this car around” on long road trips over the holidays. https://www.bionikgaming.com/

Flitt Flying Selfie Camera – Worlds collide with this model, as it’s the first flying selfie camera that fits comfortably in your pocket. Smaller than a king sized candy bar, its propellers fold up for easy storage. Fly it into the sky for a great group shot, then instantly share to social networks from the device. Be sure to gift this at the beginning of your large family gathering so you don’t miss an opportunity for a great picture. http://flittcamera.com/

Spinmaster’s Star Wars Hero Droid BB8 – With the latest Star Wars movie about to be released, new generations of fans are flocking to this iconic franchise. Recommended for ages 5 and up, Spinmaster’s Hero Droid gives kids a chance to bring the movie home. It sounds and looks like the movie, and will even follow around its user. My kids love playing with the Droid BB8 from Spinmaster so much that I also introduced them to Spinmaster’s Meccano Building Sets for M.A.X. and MeccaSpider. You can get these sets either assembled or in a kit (for the kid who loves to tinker and build his own robots). https://shop.spinmaster.com

Circle with Disney – I love this internet monitoring system because of its customization capabilities. Each kid’s profile lets you set time limits, bedtime, content filters and more. There’s no software to install on devices, and it can even place limits on friends’ browsing when they are in your home. Let’s face it, Mickey is more likely to get your child to put down his or her device than you are. https://meetcircle.com/

Arctis SteelSeries Headset – This is the headset for gamers, with surround sound and an excellent microphone. The Arctis 3 series now comes in a variety of vivid colors and 10% of proceeds go to Ditch The Label, an anti-bullying non-profit organization. If you want a higher-end gift, you can upgrade to the Arctis 7 which is wireless and boasts a 15-hour battery life. https://steelseries.com

Merge Cube – This toy was named a winner in Good Housekeeping’s Best Toy Awards 2017, among other distinctions. Augmented Reality is changing how kids learn, teaching them to see the world in new ways. Put on the goggles, or hold your phone in front of the cube, and see everything from computer games to anatomy to outer space. https://miniverse.io/cube

Kidz Gear Headphones – Kidz Gear is a 15-year-old company that prides itself on making kids products with grown up performance. These headphones start under $20, come in your child’s choice of colors and even have a volume limiter to protect their still-developing ears. Start with the basic model, or upgrade to a wireless or microphone-included version. My own kids have literally grown up listening to their music with the safety of Kidz Gear. http://www.gearforkidz.com/shop4.html

LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition– I’ve always been a fan of Leapfrog and their selection of educational products. The Leapfrog Epic, their latest tablet, does not disappoint. For ages 3-9, you can be sure your child’s learning isn’t confined to the classroom. When they think they are playing, they are actually learning. The tablet comes with 3 free months of their online program, LeapFrog Academy. http://www.leapfrog.com

Circuit Cubes Whacky Wheels – Circuit Cubes are another great educational tool for kids, teaching the fundamentals of electronics while integrating with everything from Lego’s to milk cartons. Their “Whacky Wheels” kit will show your child how to create a motorized vehicle and get it moving. Kids are intuitive, and you’ll be impressed by what yours comes up with. https://tenkalabs.com

Curiscope Virtuali-tee – This is, essentially, a “smart tee shirt.” If a child on your holiday gift list is into science and the human body, they will love this. The compatible mobile app will use the shirt bring the human body to life, showing the viewer heart, lungs, and more. They can even put the shirt on themselves in “selfie mode.” Augmented reality takes your child inside the body to see how it works. https://www.curiscope.com/

OSMO Hot Wheels MindRacers – Osmo has taken the classic Hot Wheels experience and given it a 21st century upgrade. First, you’ll need the Osmo iPad or iPhone Base to attach to your device. Then, the get the Hot Wheels launch pad so you (or, I mean, your kids) can send your cars in motion and into the digital world. It’s a nice way to marry a video game with real hands-on play. https://www.playosmo.com/en/

Primo Toys Cubetto – These toys are “screen-less” so you can put the phone and tablet away. Cubetto teaches kids the beginnings of coding, and is good for ages 3 and up. It comes with a robot, console, and blocks that will expand your child’s mind in an age appropriate manner. https://www.primotoys.com

Utopia 360 4D+ Augmented Reality Space Exploration –This seemingly simple deck of cards comes to life with VR Goggles or a smart device. A picture of Earth turns into a 3D image of our planet that your child will interact with. http://www.utopia360vr.com/

AMain HobbiesTeam Associated SC28 Lucas Oil Edition R/C Truck – For the recipient on your list that loves racing, this truck features off road racer’s Carl Renezder’s signature scheme and are a fun way to get into the R/C world. While this might not be the most tech-innovative product on the list, it will be a great, inexpensive gift for any of the kids on your Christmas or Hanukkah list this year. https://www.amainhobbies.com/

Orbit Find Wallet – Ever lose your wallet when you were a kid? It’s probably because Bluetooth trackers hadn’t been invented yet. The Orbit Card has the technology in the size of a credit card to fit right in your wallet. You won’t be delayed getting the kids out the door when they pull the “I can’t find my wallet” excuse. https://findorbit.com/orbit_us/

PopSockets – I have to admit that my kids (and their friends) are addicted to PopSockets. These little gadgets adhere to the back of your phone and become the perfect stand, ear buds holder or fidget device. They come in countless colors, styles and creations (or you can go to the website and design your own). Ever since I first saw PopSockets at CES in 2016, I’ve been watching this trendy product blow up. If you aren’t giving these away this holiday season, why not? https://www.popsockets.com

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