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15 fun toys to gift kids this holiday season

In 2023, the best gift ideas for kids include tech like gaming consoles, remote-control cars, interactive toys, electric scooters, and more.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer

With Black Friday making its appearance in just a week, and the holiday season upon us, now is a great time to start considering potential gifts for all the loved ones in your life -- including kids. Chances are if you are looking for the best gift for kids, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of toy options on the market. 

Also: Best early Black Friday deals

This year, ZDNET did the hard work for you and searched major retailers for the best tech gift ideas for kids of all ages, whether they are into robots, gaming, taking pictures, or crafting. 

Many of our 2023 picks are tech toys that are screen-free, so you don't have to worry about your loved one staring at a screen 24/7 into the new year either, and can feel better about gifting tech.  


 The best kids' toy gift ideas

  • Price: $53

If you want to stay in touch with your little ones -- or have them play with their friends in a fun way -- these walkie-talkies for kids are a great option with kid-friendly and safety features. They come with a built-in flashlight and a wearable lanyard and belt clip, so your kids have less chance of losing them. You can also charge these walkie-talkies in different ways to ensure they are always powered: Either rechargeable AA batteries or through the included USB charger. Plus, you can set up separate privacy channels for your family.

  • Price: $50

This instant camera from Kodak is fun for kids to make memories with. This camera prints 2x3-inch photos on sticky-backed paper, so kids can stick them anywhere they'd like. It also comes equipped with a light sensor that will automatically turn on the flash in low-light settings. You can print up to 25 photos on a single charge. 

  • Price: $60

If your little one is obsessed with taking photos on your phone, they'll love the Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX3. This watch has dual cameras that take pictures and videos and add effects like stamps, frames, and filters. Kids can set their clock face to a photo they took or choose from more than 50 animated ones.

This smartwatch also lets kids share preset messages to friends or siblings that also have a Vtech watch, and they can play games with them as well. In addition, parental controls allow you to give your kid daily reminders like when it's time to do chores or when they've reached their screen time limit. 

  • Price: $90 (on sale at Best Buy)

For the kid who loves riding around on scooters or bicycles, gift them this high-tech transportation. This balancing scooter has dual 160W motors that go up to 7 mph with a maximum range of three miles. It also has light-up LED wheels. This is an entry-level hoverboard from Hover-1, so you don't have to be an expert to ride it.

  • Price: $200

The Nintendo Switch made headlines in 2020 for being the most popular handheld console ever, and the Switch Lite is the cheaper and less featured-packed console that still provides great fun for kids ages six and above. While it doesn't have compatibility for TV or tabletop modes, it still has 32GB of storage, 3-7 hours of playtime, and is compatible with all Nintendo Switch games that support handheld mode. Plus, there are fun color options that kids will like more than the Switch's generic blue and red Joy-Cons.

  • Price: $30 (discounted at Walmart)

Little ones will love this interactive tech toy from Fisher Price. The DJ Bouncin' Beats has colorful lights, motorized spring action, and more than 75 songs, sounds, and phrases that teach the alphabet, counting, colors, and more. There is also a mic button that kids can press to record and play back with fun remix effects. 

  • Price: $100

The Toniebox is the screen-free entertainment toy parents have been waiting for. This little box can keep kids entertained for hours (without looking at a screen) with stories, music, and educational content told by the character at the top of the box. You can switch out the characters, too. From Disney characters like Elsa, Woody, and Moana, to characters like Peppa Pig Blue's Clues, and PAW Patrol, your child will find a character they love. A huge bonus is that there is a headphone jack so that kids can listen to the games and parents won't have to.

  • Price: $35

Sharper Image took the remote control car and made it define gravity with this tech toy. This rover wall climber uses downforce propellers and oversized wheels to help it drive up any surface and cling to the ceiling. It also has under-glow LED light effects show where the rover is going. Kids can control the rover from a long range with the included remote and it has a rechargeable battery so you never have to replace batteries.

  • Price: $100

Leapfrog's learning tablets have been a hit with young children since they first debuted in 1999, but these days, the tablets are more high-tech than ever. This touchscreen tablet comes preloaded with more than 20 educator-approved apps that explore math, reading, writing, coding, problem-solving and creativity skills. There are also parental controls that can be used to set time limits, expand content and add websites to LeapSearch, LeapFrog's kid-friendly web browser.

  • Price: $20

For kids interested in coding and gaming, this interactive toy actually lets them create their own games (while learning something!). They can create their own characters, build obstacles for them to overcome, and design the goal for how to win the game. Kids simply use the included colored markers and paper to hand-draw gaming concepts. Then, they can snap a pic of it and play an animated version of the game they created on a smartphone or tablet. 

  • Price: $60

Time Magazine named the Purrble Interactive Plush Companion one of the best inventions of 2021, and it's easy to see why. This plush toy make look like your average stuffed animal, but it uses built-in sensors to sense when you hold it close to you to start purring like a cat. Seven sensors respond to touch, fidgeting, and movement, creating a lifelike experience. For kids with sensory issues or disorders, or for anxious kids, this little pet is proven to calm people down with its purrs and giggles. 

  • Price: $65

Does your kid want a smartphone but you just aren't ready to buy them an iPhone yet? This smartphone toy from Vtech acts like a smartphone but is kid-friendly. It has features like a camera to take photos and add fun filters to, kid-friendly websites and 40+ interactive games that teach math, science and spelling, and the ability to share text messages over Wi-Fi with parent-approved contacts to other KidiBuzz devices and iPhone or Android smartphones with the free KidiCom Chat app. 

More best tech toys

How did we choose these kids tech gift ideas?

Our process in deciding these tech toys included extensive research into each product including reviews (both good and bad), pricing, category of the gift, and trusted brands. We considered different gift options in various categories so gift givers would be able to find a gift for every kid on their list this holiday season. 

How do gadgets help children?

Tech gadgets can help children learn through interactive games that don't feel like learning to kids. Gadgets can enhance speaking and motor skills, as well as helping them problem solving. In addition, tech toys can expose kids at an early age to technology so they can become more familiar with it and be able to use more advanced devices later on since, let's face it, we live in a technology-centered world now. 

Do kids prefer electronics over toys?

Over the years, kids have become more drawn to techy toys over more traditional toys like dolls or action figures. In fact, a 2014 study showed that touchscreen devices are more popular with kids than traditional toy categories like board games, arts and crafts, or puzzles. 

However, that doesn't mean you have to give in and give your kid a tablet. There are plenty of interactive and techy toys on the market today that will get kids excited without staring at a screen. 

Where to find the best tech toys?

You can find tech toys at major retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Amazon. 

What are the best gifts for 2023?

ZDNET experts rounded up the overall best tech gifts of 2023

But gifts can come in all shapes and sizes, so we also rounded up the best gifts by category, price, and retailer.

Top holiday deals

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