This is the Time of Year for Toy Buying Frenzy, AAP Says Best Toys Go Back to the Basics

By  //  December 23, 2018

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Ignore the flashing screens: best toys are those that support parents and children playing

The tug-of-war between new and old-fashioned is a perennial one; should toddlers have, say, a set of blocks or the newest newfangled thing, which these days typically means something digital with a screen?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Space Coast Daily is delighted to welcome Dr. Christopher Johnson as a guest contributor on issues of child health and well-being.

With 35 years of experience practicing pediatrics, pediatric critical care (intensive care), and pediatric emergency room care he is committed to educating parents on how best to meet the needs of the ill and injured child in today’s often confusing and complex healthcare system.

In this timely article, Dr. Johnson reports on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ advice regarding selecting toys for young children in a world dominated by digital technology.

For the 2018 holiday season, the AAP recommends toys that are not just entertaining but also designed to teach children new skills and enhance creativity through play time.

Surprisingly, despite the hype around robotic and digital-screen toys, Coresight Research has observed that the sales of technology-based toys have not dominated the best-seller charts. Most items on the toy best-seller list are old-fashioned games, dolls and Lego sets.

Hopefully, mind-building and educational toys will dominate under this year’s Christmas tree complemented by quality parental time spent with the kids.

— Dr. Jim Palermo, Editor-in-Chief

The American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that learning toys, such as the alphabet/number blocks above, allow your child to learn new tools, practice new habits and develop new skills while playing and having a good time.

This is the time of year for toy buying frenzy.

The tug-of-war between new and old-fashioned is a perennial one; should toddlers have, say, a set of blocks or the newest newfangled thing, which these days typically means something digital with a screen?

There’s no doubt a flashing screen is mesmerizing to a child, and screen time in moderation is fun for toddlers. But it is now clear that extended screen time can interfere with brain development.

Not surprisingly, the AAP states that the best toys are those which foster interaction between the child and the caregiver.

They have a useful new set of guidelines from their Council on Childhood Development: “Selecting appropriate toys for young children in the digital era.”

The best toys are those that support parents and children playing, pretending and interacting together.
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“The best toys are those that support parents and children playing, pretending and interacting together,” said Alan Mendelsohn, MD, FAAP, associate professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Population Health at NYU Langone Health.

“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.”

No surprises there, but it bears repeating. Screens are not uncommonly used as a babysitter. A little of that is OK, but beware of depending upon it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christopher Johnson, MD

Dr. Christopher Johnson received his undergraduate education in history and religion at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1974. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1978 from Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, then trained in general pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, followed by training in pediatric infectious diseases, hematology research, and pediatric critical care medicine at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. Dr. Johnson is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in general pediatrics and in pediatric critical care medicine and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Johnson, who has been named to a list of  The 50 Best Mayo Clinic Doctors — Ever,” devotes his time to practicing pediatric critical care as President of Pediatric Intensive Care Associates, P.C., as Medical Director of the PICU for CentraCare Health Systems, and to writing about medicine for general readers. His popular website/blog and four books provide a wealth of information and answers to practical questions related to child health issues.

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