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Toys For Tots: Are You Buying Your Child The Right Toys?

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

If you’re anything like me, then you’re big on educational gifts and toys for kids. Well, just when you were all proud of yourself for avoiding the pitfall of offering the next generation mindless toys and activities, you may want to think again.

According to at least one child psychologist, the onslaught of exposure to “screen time” in the lives of our youngsters, as a means of “properly preparing” them for life, a successful life, in the 21st century could be dangerous.

According to her theory, she suggests that children’s brains are wired to acquire certain skills at certain ages, and during the early phases of their life, they should be focusing on movement and human interaction. In her opinion, exposing children to gaming at an early age is a precursor to a short attention span, lack of internal motivation, difficulty with problem solving, and a lack of crativity. In fact, she suggests that children shouldn’t be exposed to computers completely until the age of 7. And apparently, she does not stand alone.

Although some companies market computer and video games to tykes as young as nine months old, and even gear videos to newborns, the Academy of Pediatrics suggests no screen time whatsoever for youngsters under the age of 2. And, that would incles Teletubbies, Veggie Tales and The Wiggles.

Even those who support a bit of tube time for tiny tykes admit that there is little evidence to substantiate the educational claims made by the manufacturers of such infant electronics. But, some (manufacturers) note that their products help stimulate age appropriate learning and that they help children reach many educational and developmental milestones.

However, those that challenge the claims note that the message remains untested. And, they add that marketers “manipulate” the market by suggesting that their products are parent approved simply because many parents are purchasing them for their children. And they note that these claims are on par with beverage companies tauting soda as a health drink, simply because a majority of the population drink and enjoy it. In fact, the nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free childhood (CCFC) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in 2006 against Brainy Baby and Baby Einstein charging the companies with false and deceptive advertising.

They suggest that at best, videos and DVDs designed for children may be a suitable complement to other forms of educational learning , but they are not necessary, nor should they serve as a replacement for more “traditional” styles and means of learning or creative play, nor should they become a babysitting device.

And, they (the experts) add that often times children’s videogames end up doing more harm than good, primarily because they get kids hooked on video (as a habit) and because they are allowed to play usually unsupervised, with video often displacing (as a priority) school work, sports, reading and family time.

Plus, they stress that good learning games can often be simple and cheap. Jump rope, for instance promotes coordination and good health, while some traditional board games such as Candy Land and Snakes and Ladders emphasize rules and consequences. For younger children, babies and infants, experts suggest games such ad peek-a-boo and giving and taking objects that focus on development.

With that said, they suggest keeping it simple for ultimate educational success.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Toys For Tots: Are You Buying Your Child The Right Toys?

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