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Traditional Toys vs Electronic Toys: ¿Which Ones Help More with Language?

5 Ene 2016 – 10:12 AM EST

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Probably your baby or toddler received tons of toys this past Christmas and some of them are full of noise and lights. Many of those toys are sold with the promise or incentive of being ‘educational’,  helping kids to develop new abilities. But a new study suggests that it doesn’t quite always work like that.

I remember very well when a therapist for kids told me to avoid toys that make noise and opt for more traditional ones. The study I read about this particular issue explains that playing with regular books (not digitals) and wooden toys, blocks and puzzles can help more with the quantity and quality of language skills a toddler will obtain rather than the electronic toys

Anna V. Sosa, Ph.D., of Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, and her colleagues conducted an experiment involving 26 parent-infant pairs with children between 10 to 16 months old.

The results were clear: Children vocalized less while playing with electronic toys than with books. Also, adults say less words and there is less conversational play.

Even the study is relatively small, provides an idea of how necessary it is for parents to not give up on traditional toys, traditional playing and especially to keep reading to the kids as much as they can.

I know in the digital era, playing with electronic toys and tablets are things almost impossible to avoid, but the study recommends parents don’t underestimate the power of the more traditional toys and the power of playing together; without a gadget that tells you what to do or a square full of lights and noise that definitely catches the attention of the toddler, but does not make him or her more talkative or communicative.

The study by Sosa was published in the most recent  issue of JAMA Pediatrics and concludes with these recommendations: Playing 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, playing with electronic toys should be discouraged. Traditional toys may be a valuable alternative for parent-infant play time if book reading is not a preferred activity.