For anyone who has ever shared something creative with the world. You know how vulnerable this can feel.
The comments. The mis-interpretation. The critique. The judgment.
For the career artists, musicians, and creators out there, you know that’s just part of what you sign up for. Not everyone will get it and that’s ok. Find your audience and keep on creating.
Through the process of designing and testing and re-designing and re-testing JamBebe, we’ve gotten a small taste of what that’s like.
Whenever we tell a family about “this new toy that we’re developing” they get really excited. The next step is where the vulnerability comes in—we hand them the toy.
Most people get it right away, they love the look and feel, and dig the music— we obviously love that. However, there have been a couple of instances where a family isn’t sold on the concept.
“What else does it do?”
It’s hard to compete in a consumer market that is driven by more features, functions, and technology. In fact, in our household we’re guilty of buying the blender that makes ice cream, or having the new phone with the coolest camera configuration. It’s not surprising that since such high value is placed on the number of features that people would expect toys to be designed this way too.
Truthfully this threw us off a bit at first—made us think about what else we could add to make JamBebe more appealing. What other features can we add? Bluetooth? A microphone? We looked at other similar toys, we talked to parents, we reflected on our own experiences as parents, and we dove into the research literature.
“It’s just a button and some knobs?”
Turns out, as recommended in an article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2019— “sometimes the simplest toys may be the best”. As humans, we have a limited capacity of information that we can process at a given time, so the less a product’s interface makes us think, the better the user-product interaction. So what does this mean for your kid? Well, their rapidly developing brain will appreciate not being bombarded by too many modes, features, or buttons.
The article goes on to debunk the overhyped benefits of the educational toy market (we’ve covered that already)—including a pretty harsh commentary on the proliferation of virtual tablet and app driven educational toys. Saying that “there is no evidence that virtual toys have any educational benefit, despite public perception to the contrary.” We’re not here to judge on screen time, we all have different tolerance levels.
What we are here to do is recognize that play for infants and toddlers is most beneficial for facilitating warm supportive interactions and relationships. Turns out listening to music is fun for all ages! Dancing is fun! Doing it with family and friends is even more fun!
It’s worth noting that the article also pointed out the potential drawbacks of light and sound producing toys. Saying that these toys can be detrimental to caregiver-child interactions that are so valuable at these ages.
“You are selling a light and sound toy so what gives?”
It depends on how you look at it. We acknowledge that there are some sensory attention elements to JamBebe, but we also view the act of listening to music as a potentially communal, shared experience that can be had between caregiver and child. That in combination with the dexterity building physical manipulation of changing tapes produces a unique toy that is not without critique, but has more upside than its competitors.
At JamBebe we strive to keep it simple. Music that everyone in your family likes. Lights to set the mood (or turn them off if that’s not your thing). And a simple interface that is easy for your child to work with.
So whenever a family says…
“It just plays music, that’s it?”
We can proudly say, “I know! Isn’t it awesome?!”