Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Too many toys for tots

Too many toys for tots

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Do you remember when you wined and threw a fuss about some toy or toys you thought you couldn’t live without ? The folks at the University of Toledo did an interesting study posing the question of whether the quality of play would be enhanced with more or fewer toys.

Did you know that toy sales are $24 billion /yr, with $3.1 billion specifically for infant and preschool toys ? Families spend an average of $240 on toys and games each year, and grandparents spend $500 yearly for gifts for grandchildren. These figures are from a really interesting book  titled, “LIFE AT HOME IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY: 32 FAMILIES OPEN THEIR DOORS” by Jeanne E. Arnold, Anthony P. Graesch, Enzo Ragazzini, and Elinor Ochs. Our families lives as illustrated by some California families is radically changing.

Now as adults think about the quality of your own interaction when your presented with a plethora of things to occupy your senses. Do you find the time to really evaluate and work diligently when working with a single or limited number of projects or do the distractions of multiple interruptions break this cycle. Think of the oncoming e-mails and the phone ringing and….. can you image if you were presented with numbers such as this 10 yr study of 32 middle class American families which found a average of 139 toys visible to researchers. Hmmmm the new study was based on a fraction of these numbers. How many toys do you have at home for your child ?

The UT study was based on offering the ~18-30 month olds either 4 toys or an array of 16 toys. Four groups of toys were chosen which included educational (toys that may teach a concept such as shapes, colors, or counting), pretend (toys that suggest themed play scenarios for ‘as if’ play), action (toys that can be activated through manipulation or toys that encourage exploration/activity on the part of the toddler i.e. building, stacking, opening, twisting), and vehicles (toys that have wheels that promote play through the toddlers ability to push the toy)

The conclusions were not surprising but the numbers are telling. The toddlers had a 108% longer duration of play, and 63% more manners of play when having 4 toys vs the 16 present. Their attention span challenged at that age, did appear with multiple other tests to clearly document a higher quality of interaction, when presented with fewer choice. The kids has ~150% as many manners of play when presented with the 4 toys  than with 16.

Take Away:  From the conclusions the level and depth of exploration is substantially enhanced by the less vs more approach. A well done article by Candice Galek is below with 6 really good suggestions:

Declutter Your Kids Brain By Doing These 6 Things

When it comes to options, sometimes less is more.

Today’s children have playrooms stacked to the ceiling with plastic, battery-operated toys of every size, shape, and color. These same kids can watch up to eight hours of TV per day, a number that would have shocked the parents of yesteryear.

Growing up I was obsessed with Barbie dolls, My Little Pony, and Lincoln Logs which I pronounced as “yikin yogs” because I couldn’t get the letter L just right. However, as we lived on a tight budget I didn’t always have all the fun accessories that were sold separately. My mom got my creative juices flowing, by teaching me how to make the best of what we had available. We built a stable for my ponies out of a cardboard box and even turned an old shoebox into Barbie’s spacious convertible.

I credit growing up this way for my ability to problem solve and think creatively now as an adult. In business (particularly running your own business) it is a valued skill that many have difficulty learning later in life.

A study by the University of Toledo on the influence of the number of toys in the environment on toddlers’ play, suggests not only limited screen time for toddlers but fewer toys as well. The study shows that toddlers had greater quality of play when presented with four toys as opposed to having 16 options. Here are six reasons why limiting the number of toys your child has may actually benefit them in the long-term.

1. Kids with fewer toys have better attention spans.

With hundreds of toys at their disposal, kids jump from one activity for another, never immersing themselves completely in one activity. Kids develop focus when there are fewer choices and fewer demands on their attention and their time. Compare this to how distracted you get when trying to multitask at work, and how many are now saying it’s actually more productive to single-task.

2. Kids with fewer toys are more creative.

Having too many options keeps kids from fully developing their imagination. Kids are more likely to use what they have to invent games with their imagination when they have fewer choices for toys and materials. For example, blocks become a dollhouse, railroad tracks, or a construction site. I remember coloring my Barbie’s hair with markers to create new characters, and getting yelled at for cutting their hair too.

3. Kids with fewer toy choices have better social skills.

When not distracted by endless entertainment, children are more likely to focus on the people around them, both adults and kids. They learn conversation skills and to interact with others, rather than new toys and gadgets. It is imperative at this age to begin building relationships with those around them.

4. Kids with fewer toys learn to appreciate what they have.

Kids with fewer toys are less likely to take them for granted. They know they have limited possessions, so they are more likely to clean, keep track of and appreciate the few things that they do own.

They should also be taught to share what they have with the less fortunate, so around birthdays and Christmas when you know more toys are coming in, do a purge and give toys away to your local shelter. Let your kids know how much they will be appreciated by those who have less.

5. Kids with fewer toys can be taught to focus on books, art, and experiences.

When kids have fewer things, it is easier to interest them in going out to a museum, to the park to get fresh air, or to sit down and read a book and create a painting or a drawing. They get more varied experiences, if they aren’t constantly buried under a mountain of colorful plastic and light up gizmos at home.

6. Kids with fewer toys learn problem solving and perseverance more quickly than children who have tons of toys.

When kids have a ton of toys and can’t figure out how one of them works (a puzzle, for example), they may be more likely to give up and go onto another, easier toy. They may have difficulty developing a healthy attention span, perseverance and patience.

As an entrepreneur I find it vital to the success of my business that I am capable of “thinking on my feet” and can resolve issues quickly and efficiently. I called my Mom to let her know that the way she raised me had actually set me up for success, and she said to me, “Oh good I’m glad, because I had no clue what I was doing!”

So you see, raising a child isn’t necessarily about how much materialistic stuff you can give them, but instead about allowing them to think creatively that may influence them the most.

By |2018-03-31T18:32:04-07:00April 1, 2018|Infant Toddler, Latest News, Parenting, Science|0 Comments

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