Moms Columns & Blogs

Forgo electronic toys this holiday season

Christmas is quickly approaching and so are the holiday deals. Unfortunately, most stores boast their electronic toys and make them the latest craze. I mean what kid wouldn't want a talking doll or a toy that lights up and makes sounds like a carnival? But we all know children do not know what is best for them and we need to take several things in to consideration before shopping this year.

Researchers have a ongoing debate about electronic toys not being as educational as they are claiming to be. The argument is that electronic toys don't allow a child to think outside of the box, they limit their imaginations, and promote short attention spans.

Electronics have a single goal, which is just to reach the end (of the game or cycle) and they serve no other purpose. Blocks can be used to stack, to build a city, build a robot, make words or number sequences, dolls can use them for chairs, they can become a car, or other countless possibilities.

A talking dog is just a talking dog. It goes through its talking cycle and has no other purpose. This limits the child's imagination to only the toy or game. They might hear the alphabet from the dog, but they aren't making other critical connections that hands-on learning provide.

Researchers are still trying to figure out what electronic toys are doing to children neurologically. 85% of a child's brain connections are made in the first years. Stimulation to these connectors is crucial to the foundation for all later intellectual development and researchers aren't sure if electronic toys are doing the trick.

Top researchers looked at the most popular electronic "educational" brands and found that none of them followed any educational curriculum so there is nothing to back up their claims. Last year's recall of Baby Einstein is just an example of the false advertising. Yes, the products can be fun and entertaining, but there is no proven educational value.

Electronic toys bring on the expectations that you can make things happen with a push of a button. So children get used to being pleased immediately instead figuring it out on their own. Not to mention, most of the toys tell your child what to do instead of letting them think independently. 

I'm not saying to trash all of your electronic toys by any means (although, if you do, please recycle). But take into consideration before making an expensive electronic toy purchase this year if your goal is to help your child develop mentally.

The majority of electronic toys are made out of plastic, which can contain BPA, phthalates, cadmium, lead, PVC, mercury, toxic paints, and other harmful chemicals. So not only are they not mentally stimulating your child the way you had hoped, they can be bad to their health.

It is estimated that $20.5 billion dollars are spent on toys each year. So think about how much of those “toxic” toys (and their batteries) end up in landfills polluting the air, soil, and water. This is why it is important to purchase toys that are built to last. 

High-quality wooden toys can be passed down for generations. So you get what you pay for.