Turns out those educational toys may not be all that great after all
Parenting, I think we can all agree, have become quite the competitive sport.
In a race to raise the smartest, most accomplished, well-nourished and well-turned out kids, this generation's parents are scrambling to come across ways to help us do just that.
Enter a whole slew of 'educational toys' – or so the ads say.
You know; the stuff toy boxes up and down the land are chock-a-block with, gadgets and gizmos touting educational benefits for babies and toddlers, promising to boost language skills, heighten senses, and yield huge advancements in gross motor development.
And we all buy into the hype. Because such is today's parenting game – and overhanging fear of being 'mom shamed' for not having done our outmost to help our babies excel.
The thing is, though, many experts are now warning us these so-called educational toys might not be as great as they claim to be.
According to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics researchers at Northern Arizona University zeroed in on electronic baby toys, positing that not only does this sect of so-called educational toys not live up to the expectations set forth by their marketing departments, but they might even set babies back, developmentally speaking.
After observing 26 parent and infant pairs, the research team concluded that babies who played with flashy, electronic devices — such as those promising to speed up language and cognition — had far less productive play times. They found that, during this play, both parents and babies were less vocal than the pairs who played with more traditional toys.
“Parents have this idea that if they just put kids in front of an educational toy or program, they’ll strengthen their language skills,” Emily Patillo, a developmental therapist based in Austin, TX, explains to The Everymom. “The trouble with this, for example, is that language is not one-sided. It requires back-and-forth between baby and caregiver."
The problem, according to Patillo? These toys that claim to support language development are hardly advantageous because they’re missing that crucial component, which is parent interaction.
“From birth, babies are building the groundwork for language,” she explains. “They learn by watching a caregiver’s mouth and facial expressions to see how they produce sounds and words. So while a new parent may not see the profound significance of verbal interaction with a young baby — and might say, let them play with a stimulating device on their own — there’s a lot going on in a baby’s brain that helps to lay the foundation for verbal communication later on. That conversational turn-taking is so important.”
What do YOU make of this? Have you bought any so-called educational toys for your own little ones? or insisted on more traditional toys? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @Herfamilydotie