What has your little one asked for this Christmas? A new doll? A new Lego set? Or even a new iPhone?
While many children can now be seen with the latest tech from a very young age these days, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that we should not be encouraging this growing trend.
A recent study found that a quarter of children under the age of six now own a smartphone, with many spending up to 21 hours a week on these smart devices!
With many experts warning of the consequences of smartphone addiction in children, here at Play Like Mum we believe that we should be doing all we can to encourage little ones to use their imaginations more in these important and formative younger years, as it is so important for their development.
Here are just a few reasons why we believe that traditional toys make a much better gift this Christmas than a smartphone or an iPad.
Smartphone addiction can cause behavioural difficulties
In a child’s young and formative years, it’s very important to support their development and encourage them to develop the skills they will need throughout their lives.
Scientific studies have found that smartphone addiction in young children can lead to problematic behaviours, and impair their emotional intelligence.
When children are young, they should be learning to interact with the world around them, observe others, and learn vital cognitive, emotional, and developmental skills, but when their attention is fixed upon a screen instead, these skills fall by the wayside.
They keep your little ones entertained
For busy parents, often putting on a television show or handing your little one your smart device to play a game can seem like a welcome respite, keeping them occupied while you try to find the time to get things done in your day to day life, but you should be careful to monitor just how much time your little one is spending in front of a screen.
Traditional toys can also offer just as much entertainment for your little ones, while also helping them with their development at the same time.
When children are little their imaginations run wild, and there is no limit to the worlds they can create with just a few props. By giving your little one some building blocks, an interactive doll, or a doll’s pram, they can entertain themselves for hours, learning about the world, roleplaying and using their creative thinking skills.
Imaginative play is key to your little one’s development
One of the most important reasons to encourage your little one to play with traditional toys is that they encourage imaginative play, which plays such a crucial role in your little one’s development.
What may seem like a simple game is actually a learning opportunity for young children, helping them to develop social and emotional skills through role-playing and putting themselves in the role of another person, language skills, and even critical thinking skills.
Imagining that they are playing the role of a parent, firefighter, princess, or any other character they choose also helps them to develop empathy.
They stand the test of time
The traditional toys that help your little one to learn and grow also happen to be those that truly stand the test of time. While there are many different trends and fads when it comes to toys, the latest must-have toys always seem to go out of fashion oh so quickly, while the more traditional toys are here to stay.
Decade after decade, children still enjoy playing dress-up, playing at being mothers and fathers, playing with stuffed animals, or playing shop.
It’s not unheard of for a good quality dolls pram or dolls house to be passed down from one generation to the next, and enjoyed for years to come. When you buy a well-made toy, you know that it’s going to offer countless hours of fun for your little one.
They keep your little ones safe
Last but not least, one of the most important reasons why a traditional toy is a much better option for your little one this Christmas is that you know that they are safe. So long as you are not buying cheap, badly made toys, you know that your child is playing with something that has been rigorously tested, and won’t cause them any harm.
On the other hand, a smart device, even if it seems innocent enough, can expose your child to things you never imagined or intended.
There has been a disturbing rise in content on YouTube that is targetted at children but contains distressing imagery such as violence and disturbing behaviour, and while no parent would willingly show this to their little one, the people making such content have ways of getting it in front of children despite your best intentions.
Here at Play Like Mum, our advice is to keep your children using their imaginations for as long as you can and delay the age at which you give them their own smart device until they have grown up. Check out our range of doll’s prams and accessories, and find the perfect gift for your little one this Christmas.