If your child is making a Christmas wish list and checking it twice, you might want to check it a third time. That’s because pediatricians and health professionals are advising that parents steer away from iPads and electronics this holiday season. Instead, they are encouraging moms, dads, and grandparents to buy their children and grandchildren simple, classic toys for underneath the Christmas Tree this year.
The American Association of Pediatricians (AAP) has released an updated report on what are the best toys for childhood development. And yes, the report recommends that parents unplug their children’s electronic devices, turn off their screens and get back to the basics.
Some of the items that are on the list are things that are probably already in your child’s playroom but just haven’t been used in several years. They include puzzles, building blocks and things that force kids to be interactive.
“Toys have evolved over the years, and advertisements may leave parents with the impression that toys with a ‘virtual’ or digital-based platform are more educational,” Aleeya Healey, MD, FAAP, a lead author of the report, stated in an AAP press release. “Research tells us that the best toys need not be flashy or expensive or come with an app. Simple, in this case, really is better.”
Many health and education experts agree that free play – whether it’s with toys or simply outside with friends - allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. While Christmas shopping, parents should choose toys that are not overstimulating and encourage children to use their imaginations.
What’s more, it is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Toys allow children to not only use their imagination and tap into their creativity but also helps build skills and language development.
But that doesn’t mean that parents should get rid of their electronic babysitters altogether. The AAP says electronic toys or games should only be played by kids if they are age-appropriate. It's also suggested they play all video or computer games with parental supervision. The AAP advises that children under the age of 2 should have no more than one hour a day of screen time. Children younger than the age of 5 should only play with a computer or video games if their games are developmentally appropriate.