Should children be playing with more traditional toys? Expert explains why

Should children be playing with more traditional toys? One expert believes so [Photo: Getty]

With the rise of Fortnite and a seemingly endless conveyor belt of iPhones, it’s growing increasingly difficult to pull transfixed children away from their screens.

In a bid to change their kids’ habits, a recent study has revealed that an increasing number of parents yearn for their children to play with more traditional toys.

The poll conducted by, discovered that a majority of the 2,000 participants wish their kids would play with the likes of chemistry sets, yo-yos, board games and telescopes – all toys which had a positive impact on their own childhood.

Findings also indicated that parents believe youngsters should be given timeless toys such as dolls, teddy bears and bikes with 44% of adults wanting their kids’ toys to inspire creativity.

But are there benefits to traditional toys or should parents’ nostalgic treasures remain in the loft for good?

Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James believes more old-school toys could provide kids with surprising “developmental benefits” from the chance for more physical play to the opportunity to learn how to play fairly.

“Traditional toys like balls encourage physical activity and also social interactivity with peers. Meanwhile, jigsaws require sustained attention, perseverance, and tenacity,” Langcaster-James tells Yahoo UK. “Traditional, low-tech toys also enable children to engage their natural imaginations and provide them with opportunities for them to be creative.”

Langcaster-James also argues that traditional toys such as board games can prove the perfect opportunity for families to play together – a major positive in the run-up to Christmas.

“Board games may seem old fashioned to some, but they allow the whole family to play together and often involve a competitive element that allows children to learn social skills such as playing fair and emotional regulation,” she adds. “They’re also quite timeless and can become a much-loved game to be passed on down the generations.”

Just how realistic is it to expect children to play with more traditional toys in the digital age? [Photo: Getty]
Just how realistic is it to expect children to play with more traditional toys in the digital age? [Photo: Getty]

In a similar manner, teddy bears can also enable younger children to understand emotions as Langcaster-James emphasises that they often act as a “transitional object” – something of which can “provide consistency and feelings of security when in stressful circumstances or when adjusting to changes in a child’s life.”

And there are stats behind the science, as a recent study indicated that more than two hours of recreational screen time a day – whether it’s through television or video games – can seriously affect a child’s learning.

Published by Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, the experiment studied 4,500 US children aged between eight and 11 to determine how screen time influences their cognitive development. They were then asked to complete a test where they were assessed on their memory, attention, language abilities and processing speed.

Findings showed that children who have less than two hours of screen time a day did 5% better than the average child in the tests.

In further alarming news, a large number of studies from the past three years have indicated a strong correlation between large amounts of screen time and childhood obesity.

Again, a more traditional toy – such as the classic bike under the Christmas tree – may offer a solution.

“Bikes provide children with an opportunity to learn about road safety skills and develop their sense of balance and motor skills while playing,” Langcaster-James tells Yahoo UK. “They also give younger children a feeling of independence and empowerment.”

But with the ability to keep kids occupied with the simple switch of a remote, children are sure to need convincing.

Is it really possible to swap video games for traditional toys in the digital age?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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