Unlike my childhood home, my house is covered in bits and pieces of Barbie and other doll accessories. As the oldest of four boys, I’m still getting used to the infusion of dolls and other traditional girl toys. I’m frequently amazed at the way my children infects with these toys and how they integrate Lego and other toys into their play (yes, I have seen Barbie riding a garbage truck filled with dominoes and puzzle pieces).

As a father, I’m less concerned about what they are playing with, rather than how they are playing. Is their play imaginative? Are they including each other? Are they problem solving? And, yes, are they cleaning up after themselves? I’m delighted that they are more interested in this kind of play (most of the time) than getting screen time. And I’ve appreciated the barrier that has kept them separate.

Until now.

Mattel recently introduced the Barbie Hello Dreamhouse and I almost fell out of chair. Per the press announcement, the house can have its lights turned on remotely and even operate the elevator through the attached app! My house can’t do these things (we also don’t have an elevator)!

I’m scratching my head as to how a smart dollhouse ads to imaginative play. Should it matter if the lights can turn themselves on and off on their own (and on which device are they accessing the app to adjust the smart settings)? I’m wondering if the addition of the Internet to this house is part of a compulsion to continually add to the Internet of things (more on that in another post).

Sometimes, we need to sit back and let play be play. Let our children use their imagination to turn a mundane dollhouse into the house of the future. Let them think about what could be rather than handing it to them.

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