Check Out the Best Tech Toys of the Holiday Season

10/04/2016 12:42 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2016

Tech has become an integral part of our everyday lives, from our mobile devices and wearable tech to our smart homes; so naturally, our kids are seeing it become an important part of their play world, too. Kids become even further familiarized with modern technology playing with tech-enhanced toys, building the foundation for important skills that they will need in the future, whether they dream of becoming a teacher, an engineer, a doctor, or anything else under the sun.

Tech toys also take play to a whole new level of fun, allowing kids to engage their toys in conversation, build up robots with tons of personality, and create their own animated movies in no time at all. What’s most important to remember when you’re shopping—and that we consider very carefully when choosing the best tech toys every year—is how the technology adds to the toy’s play value, or how much play time your kids will get out of it. Each of our top tech toys features technology that truly enhances kids’ play experience and keeps them entertained to make sure they won’t be collecting dust in a corner come spring.

Remember, at The Toy Insider, we always promote having a well-balanced toy box, or an equal amount of tech toys and classic playthings. But, to fill up that tech side of your toy box, here are the newest and hottest tech toys for 2016!

Have you ever wondered what it's like to view your surroundings from a drone’s perspective? Now it's possible! This Air Hogs drone lets kids connect to multiple devices in order to stream live video. Kids can put on the included goggles and attach their smartphone to see what the drone is seeing. The drone’s built-in, high-speed camera also lets kids capture fast moving objects.

Welcome to my house! Basically the movie Smart House in real life, Mattel introduced the first smart dollhouse. The two-story house features floor sensors, so it knows where dolls are throughout the house, and speech recognition lets kids control elements of the house (such as turning the stairs into a slide). Kids can truly imagine, customize, and control the way they play!

This DIY speaker is making a lot of noise. Kids can build and customize their very own speaker (no tools are required!) and learn how speakers work. It’s easy to build and has step-by-step guidance with hands-on interaction, confirming success along the way. Kids then add colored LED lights and silhouette covers for a speaker that’s completely their own!

This tech pet is all the fun of a real dog but with no mess! Canine Home Intelligent Pet (CHiP) is the ultimate artificially intelligent dog. This tech pet recognizes its master, responds to commands using the included SmartBand, listens to voice commands and hand gestures, and even plays fetch with its SmartBall. This dog is so smart that it knows when it has to head to its special SmartBed and recharge!

Learning to code with video games? Sign me up! This kit introduces kids to programming in a step-by-step way. To move forward in each level of the game available as an app, kids learn a piece of programming language and how to use it in order to solve puzzles and challenges. Kids also build their own controller and will eventually learn how to write programs on the computer!

Two words: wearable tech. This Bluetooth watch is made specifically for kids in mind and features a sleek, modern design to look just like Mom and Dad’s. The watch features apps including a calculator, music player, selfie camera, activity tracker, and mini games using wrist action. Plus, kids can message friends and family using Bluetooth technology!

One of the smartest drones out there, LUMI literally flies itself. So, that means kids don't have to deal with the fuss of flying the quadcopter and can play, direct, and command it using the companion app. Kids can command stunts, play games, watch as it dances in the air, choreograph an air show, and more.

Mebo (Skyrocket Toys)

Kids’ very own personal robot is not a thought of the past anymore. Kids can control Mebo with an app for it to pick up snacks, spy on people, or even have conversations. See what the robot sees with the built-in camera, which streams live in HD. Kids can also lift and move items precisely with Mebo’s articulated arm and gripping claw, design a custom sequence from pre-set animations, shake his head, and wave his arm!

Rarrr! This dinosaur BFF is a 3-foot long programmable robot that kids can build from 715 pieces. Meccasaur features sensors to notice any changes in light or sound, so he’ll charge at intruders and roar at them. It also responds to petting, answers yes or no questions, and stomps around.

It’s time to take off! This super cool drone uses voice command technology for kids to fly. It responds to 12 commands, including takeoff, changing direction, amazing stunts, and more. Kids can also fly it without using the included headset.

Introducing the mega-popular sport of drone racing to kids, this drone combines racing with video game battling. The Hover Racer flies 20 mph while hovering 3 feet off the ground, offering gameplay for up to four players. The drone interacts with an app and beacons for players to race and battle in courses they designed themselves.

We’re not monkeying around—this toy is the closest kids can get to having their own pet chimp! Zoomer Chimp has lifelike movements and realistic sounds. It also follows kids, stands on its own, and recognizes commands using voice recognition technology. He is also a show off and loves to perform tricks!

The Toy Insider full holiday gift guide appears in the November issue of Family Circle magazine, on newsstands in mid-October, and is also online at TheToyInsider.com.

Up next, a look at our 2016 editor picks for the hottest toys that teach kids important STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) concepts.

Laurie Schacht, also known as The Toy Insider Mom, has covered the toy industry for more than 20 years. The Toy Insider is a year-round resource for parents, grandparents and other gift-givers looking for the best toys for their kids. The Toy Insider also produces an annual holiday gift guide featured in Family Circle magazine. Visit thetoyinsider.com for the latest toy news, reviews, giveaways, and more.

Follow Laurie Schacht on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ToyInsiderMom

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