Research suggests that traditional toys and books should be used more for early language development whereas play with electronic toys should be discouraged.
Transforming dinosaur, learning bug, talking farm or baby cellphones – these are some of the most whiz-bang toys most parents would think to buy for their kids this Christmas.
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They are fun to play, no doubt, but these toys with flashing lights, loud sound and music can slow down the language development of your little ones.
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that while playing with electronic toys babies less engage with the verbal give-and-take with their parents which is extremely important for their cognitive development or for their ability to think and understand.
These whirring and expensive toys may seem best for early language development and are also advertised as language-promoter but the outcome is totally opposite to what has been said. In fact, traditional toys like blocks or read board books are found more effective in toddler's language development.
Study suggests that electronic toys make parents less likely to have little meaningful verbal exchanges with their kids while kids also babble or vocalize less when they play with electronic toys.
For the study, researchers involved 26 pairs of parents and children aged 10 to 16 months and gave each family three sets of toys - electronic toys, traditional toys and books. Then, they recorded parent-infant play sessions with these toys at home.
Researchers consider various factors like the number of adult words, child vocalization, conversational turns, and parent’s response to child’s utterances to determine the outcome of the experiment.
Researchers found parents and kids were less interactive while playing with electronic toys. Play with books and traditional toys was found more effective than electronic toys in promoting high-quality communication.
“Play with electronic toys is associated with decreased quantity and quality of language input compared with play with books or traditional toys. To promote early language development, play with electronic toys should be discouraged. Traditional toys may be valuable alternative for parent-infant play time if book reading is not a preferred activity.” Study concludes.