Old-fashioned toys oust tech
Skip the costly electronic games and flashy digital gizmos. Pediatricians say the best toys for tots are old-fashioned hands-on playthings that young children can enjoy with parents — things like blocks, puzzles — even throwaway cardboard boxes — that spark imagination and creativity.
“A cardboard box can be used to draw on, or made into a house,” said Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, co-author of a newreportonselectingtoysforyoung children, up to around age five.
Many parents feel pressured by ads promoting tablet-based toys and games as educational and brainstimulating but there’s not much science to back up those claims, Mendelsohn said. Their main misconception: “The toy that is best is the one that is the most expensive or has the most bells and whistles or is the most technologically sophisticated.”
Simpler hands-on toys that parents and young children can play with together are preferable for healthy development, said Mendelsohn, a pediatrician at NYU Langone Health in New York.
The report recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics cites studies suggesting that heavy use of electronic media may interfere with children’s speech and language development, replace important playtime with parents and lead to obesity.
Studies also have found that more than 90 per cent of U.S. kids have used mobile devices and most started using them before age one.
The pediatricians’ group recommends no screen time for children up to age two, and says total screen time including TV and computer use should be less than one hour daily for ages two and older.
The academy’s website offers suggestions on ideal toys for young children, including balls, puzzles, colouring books and card games.
Shopping recently at Dancing Bear Toys in Asheville, N.C., a store that doesn’t sell electronic toys, Leah Graham Stewart said she supports the academy’s advice even if avoiding digital toys and games is tough.
She said she’s noticed her two young boys tend to misbehave after playing on an iPad she typically reserves for long airplane rides.
“We try to keep it as minimal as possible,” Graham Stewart said. “I just tell them to go outside and play.”