Simple toys better for children

colored blocksIn light of articles like this one, stating that as recently as Nov. 20, hazardous toys (containing high lead levels and other dangers) were still being found on the shelves in stores like Target, it’s validating (but really no surprise to me) to read that Simple Retro Toys May Be Better For Children Than Fancy Electronic Toys.

“Old-fashioned retro toys, such as red rubber balls, simple building blocks, clay and crayons, that don’t cost so much and are usually hidden in the back shelves are usually much healthier for children than the electronic educational toys that have fancier boxes and cost $89.99,” says Temple University developmental psychologist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek.

As Roberta Golinkoff, head of the Infant Language Project at the University of Delaware says, “Electronic educational toys boast brain development and that they are going to give your child a head start. But developmental psychologists know that it doesn’t really work this way. The toy manufacturers are playing on parents’ fears that our children will be left behind in this global marketplace.”

Golinkoff adds that “kids are not like empty vessels to be filled. If they play with toys that allow them to be explorers, they are more likely to learn important lessons about how to master their world.”

Suggested advice for parents is to “Look for a toy that is 10 percent toy and 90 percent child — ‘A lot of these toys direct the play activity of our children by talking to them, singing to them, asking them to press buttons and levers,’ Hirsh-Pasek says. ‘But our children like to figure out what is going on by themselves. I look for a toy that doesn’t command the child, but lets the child command it.’”

“Golinkoff adds, ‘The irony is that the real educational toys are not the flashy gadgets and gismos with big promises, but the staples that have built creative thinkers for decades.'”

Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek are the authors of “Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn– And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less.”

For more advice and guidelines for selecting gifts for children, read the full article. Less really is more. :)