These days, it’s so common to see young children having their own mobile devices. As parents, we are sometimes guilty of letting our kids use these devices for entertainment just so they won’t bother us as we do our work or home chores. We try to justify it by saying these gadgets have good educational videos and apps in them so they’re good for our youngsters.
According to pediatricians, however, smartphones and tablets are not exactly the best toys that promote healthy childhood development. As the American Association of Pediatricians declared, “the best toys go back to the basics.”
AAP then enlisted several guidelines for pediatricians and families, pointing out that kids need less screen time and more access to traditional toys – such as action figures, art materials, balls, bikes, blocks, board games, card games, cooking pay sets, dolls, jigsaw puzzles, and others.
Aleeya Healey, MD, FAAP, lead author of the report quoted by AAP, explained:
“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.
“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.”
Through toys, toys get to develop their language, social skills, problem solving skills, and more. Digital devices, on the other hand, tend to isolate them and keep them less active.
Alan Mendelsohn, MD, FAAP, co-author of the report and associate professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Population Health at NYU Langone Health, said:
“The best toys are those that support parents and children playing, pretending and interacting together.
“You just don’t reap the same rewards from a tablet or screen. And when children play with parents – the real magic happens, whether they are pretending with toy characters or building blocks or puzzles together.”
“The more we know about early brain development, the more we understand the need for play that is based on human interaction,” added Dr. Healey. “There is no screen, video game or app that can replace the relationships built over toys.”
Moreover, the report likewise reminded parents about official guidelines that children younger than 2 years old should have no screen time at all while those who are 2 or older should have less than an hour per day.
Additionally, parents should ensure adult supervision when they let their children use digital devices and limit usage to educational, age-appropriate entertainment.
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