Guest blog by Juul van Kessel van Educatieve-speelgoed.nl
In recent years there has been a strong growth in the number of electronic educational toys for children and babies on the market. There is also a decrease in innovation of "basic" educational toys. What does this mean for the development, behavior and playing skills of a child?
Toys can have a strong influence on the way a child plays with them. When a child plays with a non-electronic object that requires creativity to play with, there is an endless amount of ways to play with it. When a child plays with, for example, an electronic puppet that makes a sound when pressed, there is a limitation on the number of functions and the fantasy that comes with this while playing. As a result, an average child will be quicker to play an electronic toy such as a doll than for example a ball. Electronic toys are constantly advertised on television and online because this market is very innovative, on the other hand "old-fashioned" toys are becoming less and less popular, because children rarely see advertisements about this. Should we be concerned about this as parents, teachers and masters?
Restriction of individualization
When you walk through a toy store, you clearly see what this means. A huge number of high-tech toys: toys that move or make music themselves, toys that read the alphabet and devices that can imitate the sounds of animals. Many of these types of toys contain logos, figures or other visual images that are known to parents and children through the many advertisements on TV, YouTube and online. Not so long ago the shelves of a toy store were filled with cars, blocks and figures whose children themselves were the directors of the function of the toy. Toys whose possibilities were endless in the eyes of a child. The individualization of a child's own imagination and creativity is limited when using programmed toys.
Play is important
Research has shown that discovery play is enormously important for children and babies. The combination is important when learning about how the world works. It helps them understand how their bodies work and how to interact with other people, teaches them the effects of certain actions, and teaches them how to achieve a desired effect. What happens in the environment of a child influences the way of playing. For example, playing with adults, where the quality of play influences the growth of the relationship between a child and a parent. This influence comes, for example, from the feedback that children and babies receive while playing in their environment. There is also a positive relationship between the quality of playing with adults and the development of skills such as problem-solving thinking.
Impact on long-term development
Just as the way of playing with adults influences the development of a child, the type of toys also influences the development of a child. When a child gets used to toys with a certain function, a child will expect that all the other toys also have this function. If a child becomes accustomed to electronic toys whose number of different play options is limited, tells the toy for which it can be used or of which the toy has only one function, then a child in the future will be more likely to have toys whose function is not clear (such as blocks ) avoid or find it uninteresting. This is why daycare centers and households have more and more questions about the influence of this type of toy and its influence on a child.
What can we do?
Be very aware what kind of toys you buy for your child. Be aware of the function limitations of electronic educational toys, despite the marketing about the positive effect of skills development on children. Find a good balance between "old-fashioned" educational toys and electronic educational toys. Create an environment at home or in the classroom where creativity and imagination are encouraged so that the child would like to play with educational toys whose function can be determined by the child. Inform others in your area about the limitedness of electronic educational toys so that when buying a gift for your child or other children, they take the consequences into account despite the fact that "the newest, most popular" toys are very attractive at first, but perhaps also get bored quickly. Nothing beats blocks, figures and cars whose number of play ways are endless, just like we used to play as children!
- Bronson, MB (1995) The Right Stuff for Children Birth to Eight: selecting play materials for support development. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Caruso,
- DA (1988) Play and Learning in Infancy: research and implications, Young Children, 43 (5), pp. 63-70.
- Levin, DE (1996) Endangered Play, Endangered Development: a constructivist view of the role of play in development and learning, in A. Philips (Ed.) Playing for Keeps, pp. 73-88 & 168-171. St Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.
- Levin, DE (1998) Remote Control Childhood? Combating the Hazards of Media Culture. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
- DIANE E. LEVIN & BARBARA ROSENQUEST Wheelock College, The Increasing Role of Electronic Toys in the Lives of Infants and Toddlers: should we be concerned?