A new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is encouraging parents to avoid buying their children the latest digital toys, and instead reach for more simple classic toys. In the era of beeps, buzzes, and tablets, our children are not gaining the same skills previous generations garnered from play. When children play, we do not want to just randomly stimulate their minds. We want it to be the right kind of stimulation – one that promotes growth and learning.
Don’t Fall for the Trap
Many of the latest digital toys for kids (tablets, apps, interactive video, voice recorded books, and computer programs) advertise that they are educational. They make all sorts of claims leading parents to believe that they will make their children smarter. Just because these digital platforms call themselves interactive does not mean they are the correct type of interaction that a child needs. Toys are quintessential to helping a child’s brain develop language skills, pretend play, socially interact, problem solve, and promote physical activity, and these digital toys are just not going to cut it.
What Kinds of Toys Should Kids Use?
What children really need are simple toys that inspire imagination and interaction between parent and child. Play with pretend characters, make up puzzles, and build with building blocks to create engagement between parent and child and aid in development. The AAP recommends not choosing toys that are over stimulating, and suggests toys that inspire creativity.
Limit Screen Time
The AAP recommends to decrease screen time for children. They recommend less than one hour a day for children who are above the age of two (this includes computer games and TV), with an emphasis on appropriateness. They suggest no screen time for those under the age of two.
Interaction Is the Key
With more and more toys going digital, parents might find themselves not knowing what is safe for their children to play with. When in doubt, interaction among parent and child is really key. According to the AAP report, the most important part of how a child plays is not necessarily what type of toy they are using, but who they are using it with. If you spend the time to interact with your child and develop their critical thinking skills, you’ll be providing the right type of stimulation.