The Best Toys for Children
by Ian Larson, DPT
AzOPT Tempe Doctor of Physical Therapy
As a fellow parent of four children under five years old and a physical therapist, the types of toys and devices my wife and I allow in our home has received more and more attention. I think most parents can agree the toys and technology our children have access to is nowhere near the same we had growing up. Choosing which toy, how much electronic time, and balancing it all out is stressful.
When my four year old told us is favorite toy was the iPad, we were shocked. He had numerous books, blocks, and stuffed animals throughout his room that he “had” to sleep with every night, but somehow, those did not end up on his favorite list. This inspired me to do some more research.
As our society becomes more immersed in electronic devices, access comes at an earlier and earlier age. Some of these children are younger than 2 years old and already accumulate more than thirty minutes on some kind of electronic device. So here comes the big question, “Are traditional toys better than tablets for children, and if so why?”
First – are traditional toys better than tablets?
According to a medical research article from Trusted Source in 2018, children provided with fewer toys produced higher quality of play. The article further discussed that with fewer toys, children were more likely to demonstrate higher levels of creativity (1). This concept is further bolstered from Dr. Anna Sosa, a PhD in child development. She says traditional toys like puzzles, shape sorters, and blocks help promote language development for children as compared to electronic toys (2). Dr Sosa sums up her research by simply telling all parents, “Less is more, when it comes to toys.” Quality of play is more important than quantity.
Dr. Aleeya Healey, a pediatrician, further examines this topic by saying, “Traditional toys tend to have less of an electronic/digital or media-based background that can distract from promoting the use of a child’s own creativity and imagination.” Dr. Healey further recommends the following traditional toys, in order to promote children to be more creative. One personal observation that the author comes across, is the underlying theme that traditional toys allow the ability for the child and the parents to interact and play together. The increased interaction previously discussed can establish a stronger family relationship and dynamic that can be matured as your children advance in development.
Recommended Traditional toys from Dr Healey:
- Action figures
In conclusion, bringing children back to the “basics” with toys seems to help them integrate all their developmental skills more readily. Even though it is convenient to have children on the tablets, phones, and other electronic devices, their growth and interaction with the world and people around them becomes more limited. Please give this some thought as you prepare to shop for the Holidays!
- Trading electronics for traditional toys and books may boost early language development. NAU News. http://news.nau.edu/new-study-suggests-trading-electronics-for-traditional-toys-and-books-to-promote-early-language-development/#.XjheXWhKjIU. Published January 8, 16AD. Accessed February 3, 2020
- Campbell, L. (2018). Toys Better for Kids Than Video Games. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-toys-not-tablets-are-best-for-kids#From-a-psychological-perspective [Accessed 3 Feb. 2020].