Why Old-Fashioned Toys Are Better
A new study is the the first to examine how electronic toys affect the way mothers and toddlers play together, compared with how they play with traditional, tech-free toys. The BPS Research Digest reports:
“Twenty-five highly-educated mothers and their toddlers (average age 20 months) were filmed playing for ten to fifteen minutes with three traditional toys—a board book; a shape-sorting toy; and a plastic farm set. And then they were filmed playing for the same length of time with three electronic versions of those kinds of toys—an electronic book, from Touch and Teach Busy Books; Fisher-Price Cookie Shape Surprise; and the Funderful Roll Along Safari plastic toy with flashing lights, music and activating buttons. For half the mother-child pairs, it was the electronic toys that were played with first.
The videos were analyzed by two independent coders who were trained to look for important aspects in the way mothers play with toddlers. The results showed that when mums played with a toddler with electronic toys, they were less responsive, less educational in their play style (for example, providing fewer labels, less often expanding children’s words etc), and slightly less encouraging.
Woolridge and Shapka think that one reason mothers play differently with electronic toys is because they are noisy and so interrupt or deter mothers and children from communicating with each other. Another thing is that mothers seem to tend to try to use the electronic toys in the way they were designed, which constrains their play skills. They showed a lot more creative use of the conventional toys, initiating more make-believe play with them.” Read more here.
Parents, stick with old-fashioned books and blocks!