Tech savvy parents and toys – it’s the modern day norm. As parents, we use tech to manage just about every aspect of our lives – from booking holidays to ordering take out to getting a ride. But how much tech is too much tech when it comes to parenting?
The purpose of toys is twofold – on the one hand, toys provide entertainment and keep your little one occupied. On the other hand, toys serve the purpose of enhancing development. A good toy can quite easily achieve both these outcomes. Here are the qualities you should look for in a good toy:
Basic is best
Almost anything can provide entertainment for a curious baby’s brain. From a simple box to a pricey electronic gadget, your baby will be easily entertained as she strives to master the new object and explore all its qualities. As a parent, you should know, however, that it is usually the simpler toy that is beneficial for keeping babies occupied. The reason is that simple toys can have many functions – take a couple of blocks and a box – these items provide hours of exploration. Your baby will experiment with where the blocks can go, which is bigger, how many can fit, what noises can be made, in and out games, etc. Fancy electric toys may only do what they are designed to do and frequently don’t teach new concepts or encourage creativity.
Your baby is working hard to develop her visual perception, cognitive and movement skills and a good toy encourages these proficiencies. In order to be beneficial, a toy should demand some gross or fine motor involvement.
Playing with a tablet, for instance, allows babies to sit still while keeping them occupied. New research shows that the sedentary activity level we see in infants playing with technology may very negatively affect babies’ bone and muscle development. This is because a child who watches TV moves their arms 6 times less than if playing with toys and whilst using iPads, moved 3 times less. This does not bode well for development. This research adds to the cautionary picture that previous research provided – that language and concentration are negatively affected by tech use in young babies.
As a tech savvy parent, you need to proceed with caution when using tech to entertain your baby. This is one area where back to basics may well be the better choice.