Here’s Why Pediatricians Say Skip High-Tech Toys This Holiday Season and Go with the Classics Instead

Going back to basics will also help your wallet.

By: Amanda Mushro
Education, friendship, technology and children concept. Group of teenage girls is using gadgets. Kids with phones and tablets, with smartphones and headphones.


Education, friendship, technology and children concept. Group of teenage girls is using gadgets. Kids with phones and tablets, with smartphones and headphones.

Photo by: SvetaOrlova


If your kid’s Christmas list is full of toys and gear that get plugged in, require serious screen time, and only work if paired with an app, this new study may make you rethink which gifts end up under the tree this year.

According to a new report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics, cutting-edge tech toys come with a serious price tag and could actually harm your child’s development. Instead, they say opt for old-fashioned toys like blocks, puzzles or books to encourage your child’s imagination and creativity.

"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," said Aleeya Healey, a lead author of the report. "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."

The report also cites studies that suggest too much time on electronics can interfere with a child’s speech and language development, as it replaces playtime and interactions with parents. The good news is that these basic toys are usually much cheaper than the hottest and newest tech toys. Going back to basics when it comes to your holiday shopping will also help your wallet.

So what should we consider when choosing toys for our kids? "The best toys are those that support parents and children playing, pretending and interacting together," said Alan Mendelsohn, co-author of the report. "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."

If you hand your child a tablet or other tech toy, their interactions are limited to the technology and not the people and world around them. However, toys like building sets, art and chemistry sets, and dress-up clothes encourage higher-level thinking and encourage families to interact with one another.

As a mom who has two kids who want all of the flashy tech toys, it’s clear that this holiday season needs to be all about balance. Since kids learn through play, we should be a part of that play and if it’s all about the tech — we may be missing out.

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