Once in a while, a super cool invention comes along for kids, and I just really want it for myself. Today's example is the magical world of Toniebox, a screen-free audio entertainment system designed for children ages 3 and up. Developed by two dads looking for ways to keep their kids entertained without relying on screens, Tonies offers a digital listening experience that plays stories, songs and more while fostering imagination and independent play. And luckily, the Toniebox Starter Set ($99.99) is now available here in the United States.
The starter set includes a Toniebox, a soft-to-the-touch and shockproof audio cube designed specifically for small hands, and a Creative Tonie, a hand-painted figurine that magnetically (and magically!) attaches to your Toniebox, which then begins playing up to 90 minutes of your own unique content. Whether its favorite books recorded in your own voice on the Tonie app, parents singing their child's favorite songs, or preserving family memories for the future, Creative Tonies put a custom spin on your child's experience with their Toniebox. My favorite part: the recording option is particularly great for grandparents who might not live close enough for regular story time activities together.
Additional Tonies available include collectible favorites from the Disney playbook, like The Lion King, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid, to name a few. So your child can switch from grandma reading a story to singing "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King by simply taking their Creative Tonie off the top of the Toniebox and replacing him with Simba. Magic. (Bonus: these extra Tonies are priced nicely from $11.99 to $14.99.)
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Which brings me to my next point: I love that after initial set-up, it looks like parents aren't really needed to help operate this device for their child, unlike many supposedly child-friendly tech gadgets. It has a durable design and uncomplicated controls, so the idea is that kids can simply use it on their own by changing out the figurines on top and clicking through what they want to hear or do with the Toniebox.
And for those worried about privacy issues, the Toniebox also sounds like a pretty safe tech option for your child's entertainment. After initial set-up, your home WiFi will no longer be required for use. Unlike YouTube or Amazon’s Alexa, the Toniebox and tonies figurines work on a closed ecosystem utilizing RFID technology, not Bluetooth. And because it's not connected to the internet beyond the very initial set-up, the Toniebox can be used by your child anywhere.
The Toniebox opens up a world of stories and songs to explore without staring at a screen, and I am so excited that it's now available in the U.S. If you want to see a Toniebox in action, check out the brand's introductory video on its YouTube page.