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Traditional Toys Vs. Electronic Toys
Toys come in all shapes and sizes and can be found everywhere.
Some toys are miniature versions of life-sized items like a play kitchen or lawn mower. Other toys are condensed into a small hand-held device that has all kinds of lights, sounds, and interactive features.
Is one type of toy better than the other?
Let’s dig a little deeper and do a toy comparison: traditional vs. electronic.
What are traditional toys?
These are the toys that have been around for awhile and are usable just as they come, meaning they don’t require a charge, internet connection, or batteries.
They include things you likely remember from your own childhood; dolls, blocks, trains, puzzles, etc.
Children all over the world have played with a large variety of toys for many, many years.
Countless hours have been spent playing with these kinds of toys. I believe they are an important part of childhood as children are able to really use their imaginations.
As a child I spent hours playing with my dolls and barbies. We had “tea” parties, played school (I wanted to become a teacher from a young age!) and had other exciting adventures. These are cherished memories I will always have!
I don’t know that you could measure the benefits I received through this type of play.
As time has gone on the toy options have only grown larger. Nowadays you can walk into a store and find aisles and aisles of toys. It can be a little overwhelming! But oh the fun that awaits the children. 😉
We have to admit that screens appeal to each of us on some level.
Young babies are drawn to a screen because of the lights and movement. While they don’t yet understand what they are seeing and hearing, the parts they do see and hear fascinate them.
Those people who aren’t particularly into TV shows, movies, sports, etc their eyes are still drawn to a screen that is on.
Have you ever walked into a restaurant that has a game playing or movie running?
It’s hard to stay focused on someone or something else because your senses direct you to the screen.
As adults we work with screens every day. We use our cell phones and computers to communicate, search, connect, and navigate among other things. Screens hold a prominent position in our society today!
So what does this have to do with electronic toys?
Whether we like it our not our children will be exposed to screens early on in life.
How can we set them up for success with these tools and not turn into future couch potatoes?
By providing boundaries, education, and direction.
There are fun and educational tools out there that come in the form of electronics. Used correctly, some of these electronic toys can stimulate thinking and encourage creativity as the children digitally maneuver and create.
In the classroom, electronic games and activities were best used in conjunction with interacting and learning with the teacher and classmates.
At home these interactions include parents, siblings, and potentially extended family members.
The games will be less effective if these electronic toys are only used in isolation.
Be Aware: Many toys are labeled “educational” when in reality they really aren’t. If it seems too good to be true– ‘this product will teach your child to read in 10 days!’- it probably is!
Like many things in life, things are not always as they appear. Choose wisely and be actively involved in the things your kids are doing. (Those being your own kids or others you have the opportunity to be around.)
Getting Down To The Nitty Gritty
Is there a downside?
I don’t feel there are many cons to traditional toys.
They have proven themselves over the past generations. They have helped numerous children grow throughout their childhood. Most don’t come with specific directions, so they allow the child to use the toy however they feel.
Electronic Toys Cons
While electronic toys and screens capture the attention of millions every day we do need to be careful.
1. Childhood obesity is a bigger problem now than it has been in the past. Why?
I’m sure there are multiple factors that play into it, but one major contributing factor is the lack of physical exercise.
Think back a few generations… they didn’t have all of these electronic devices that kept them indoors and sitting down.
Children these days have so many options available to them. They don’t just have a bike or a book to choose from. They could play an electronic game, virtual bowling, or a myriad of other things that capture their attention.
2. Fewer Personal Interactions
There is typically less conversation and social interaction happening when a child is using an electronic toy.
They tend to be completely consumed in the screen or toy and usually don’t pause to interact with anyone around them.
Over time this can pose a problem if a child is exposed to more electronic toys than traditional toys.
If they are using only electronic toys, their language and social skills commonly suffer because they aren’t actively practicing and refining these skills.
As a teacher, it seemed that as time went on there were more and more kids having attention difficulties in the classroom.
It started to feel like I was a one woman parade every day, trying my best to be “entertaining” and keep their attention.
I attribute a lot of the inattentiveness to the amount of screen time many of the kids were being exposed to everyday. It is hard to compete with an electronic device!
3. Lack of Stimulation
Many electronic toys and games have ways for the kids to level up.
This is fine if the kids are continually using their brains to solve the presented problems or complete the required task to move up to the next level.
The trap we have to be aware of is that kids can get to a point that they have figured out how it works and it no longer requires any thought or processing. They memorize what needs to happen and it just becomes a mindless game.
It’s not all bad! Specific electronic toys used in limited amounts of time can provide valuable learning opportunities.
There are definitely benefits to both traditional and electronic toys.
Both can provide positive avenues of learning.
If we do our homework and are aware of the purposes and actual outcomes from these toys our children can get the best of both worlds to help them along their learning path.
New ideas and useful toys are being marketed all the time, why not utilize the resources created!
So in the end is there room for both? Yes!
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