Brainwave Toys - Do Today's Kids Have Enough Brain Power To Play?

I worry about the youth of today.  Why?  Here are three examples - all true:

1. An 8th grader asked a teacher why people had to fly in a plane to France since France is so close to California.

2. In science class, a 7th grader asked when they (the students) were going to be "digesting" the frog.

3. Stuff like this:

I'm not making up the first two... and the third is pretty self-evident.  I'm not saying that all kids are like this.  Just most of them.

So it was with a certain amount of incredulity that I greeted the release of not one, but two mind-controlled games for kids this Christmas season.

The first of these, Mindflex, consists of a game console, a headset, a foam ball, and various obstacles.

The components of the MindflexThe components of the Mindflex

Kids strap the headset on (this includes clipping it to their ear lobes and making sure that a metal sensor is above their left eyebrow) and then control the ball through a complex obstacle course... using only their concentration.

Now when I think about kids, the word "concentration" usually isn't connected with my experiences.  Sliding under the table for no reason, whining, farting, being so spoiled that Mom does their homework for them, "Why do I have to [insert whatever you told them to do here]?"  These things come to mind when I think about kids.  Concentration?  Hell, no.

Let's just cast the fantasy that a kid can concentrate on anything for more than 30 seconds aside and look at Mindflex's game-play for a sec.

Looks like an American Gladiators arena...Looks like an American Gladiators arena...

The game utilizes the same technology that is used in EEG (electroencephalogram) machines that monitor brainwave activity.  But instead of the signal going to a readout display, it is routed into a control area.  This controls the spin speed of  a movable fan nozzle that holds the little foam ball aloft.  Apparently the ball will rise or fall based on the concentration level of the player.  It doesn't hurt that the instruction manual provides some sort of Zen concentration tactic to keep the kid from either dropping the ball to the ground or spastically slinging it through a window.  If this training works I say we put it in the water supply.


Puny mortals!  You will soon feel my wrath!  After Mom makes me a peanut butter sandwich...Puny mortals! You will soon feel my wrath! After Mom makes me a peanut butter sandwich...

After enough practice it's time to try out one of five games.  These are designed for one to four players and generally consist of guiding the ball through complex obstacle courses.  One of the games involves levitating the ball through a funnel then shooting it across the console for points.  This could be cool... but I don't know if four of today's kids can sit still long enough for any of this game-play to come into fruition.

Here's the Mindflex in action... And I must say that I, being the snarky bastard that I am, find this intriguing:

The second mind-controlled game is a bit closer to my heart and works a bit better as a toy idea simply due to the fantasy aspects inherent in the marketing: The Star Wars Force Trainer.

Is The Force with this one?Is The Force with this one?

Anyone who reads my stuff here knows that I'm a die-hard Star Wars geek.  The idea of lifting a ball into the air using "The Force" calls to the inner child in me like the chimes of an ice cream truck coming 'round the corner of my street.

Yes... I like ice cream.  Particularly Strawberry Shortcake bars.  They're delicious.

The technology is the same, and while it's not as dynamic as Mindflex, The Force Trainer has a built-in fan-base.

This kid is a future Sith Lord... He just doesn't know it yet.This kid is a future Sith Lord... He just doesn't know it yet.

I think both toys will be quite successful over the holiday season for two reasons:

1. Any kid who loves Star Wars will think that they have The Force.

2. Parents will buy anything in a vain attempt to keep their kids from being the psychotic agents of chaos that they really are.

While it sounds like I'm poo-pooing these things, I'm really not.  I think anything designed to improve a kid's concentration is a good thing.  Not just for the kid... but for their parents' (and teachers') sanity.

And I think they're quite cool.  I'm thinking of getting one myself (guess which one) just to practice calming techniques to help my writing.

Use typing control (and mind control when typing) to get your own Mindflex and/or Star Wars Force Trainer at Amazon!

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Jan 5, 2010
by John P. Barker
John P. Barker's picture

I like your topic...

But you need an editor...  Nice idea - and I agree.  It can be a great tool for concentration.

Mar 1, 2010
by Anonymous

mind toys

Notice the word "mind" comes first; as in you must have one to play with these toys.For most kids today it wouldn't make any difference if this toy were plugged in our not.