Keeping your little ones occupied and educated at the same time can be a tricky task. New technological advancements are taking place daily and often parent’s wonder if it is even worth keeping traditional toys when all your child wants to do is play with an electronic tablet. You may think that those videos and games have sufficient learning properties for your child’s development but recent studies have shown otherwise. Luckily, some new research is enlightening us on the topic of traditional versus electronic toys. This new study looked at the following:
- 26 child-parent pairs
- Children were ages 10-16 months old
- The authors compared three types of toys: (1) electronic (e.g. a tablet); (2) traditional baby toy (e.g. blocks or sorting toy); (3) board books
The results showed some interesting findings: when playing with electronic toys there were fewer adults words, fewer back-and-forth conversation between parent and child and fewer parent responses to the child. As compared to playing with books, children also vocalised less. The language interaction between children and parent (especially infants on the cusp of learning language) is crucial not only to language development but social skills and interpersonal interaction.
Studies have shown that it is extremely important to interact directly with your child in order to get the best results in their learning development. Electronic toys can be helpful if used sparingly. We all need a few minutes to do dishes or cook a meal and these toys can be good distractions for a few minutes. It’s good, however, to keep in mind that you as a parent are the best “toy” for your infant. Talking to him/her over toys and books is the best way for her/him to learn language and interaction skills.