The majority of toys today are plastic, light up, ding, are related to movies and TV shows or are in some other way connected with technology.
I have mixed feelings about this. I’m not against technology, I use it and enjoy the benefits. Like it or not, we weren’t born in the 1800′s and can’t go back in time. Incidentally, I think much of the romanticizing about the past is largely just that – romantic – but not based in reality. Times before modern technology and science were hard – if we just look at the life expectancy in that time, we can see that – as people rarely lived to forty as recently as the 1800′s.
Scientists discovered that brain growth is the greatest between 0-4 years of age. The scientists who conducted the study hoped that the results would encourage better preschool investment – instead they said that it spawned a new niche in toys, parents trying to make their children into baby Einstein’s. But that’s another issue in and of itself.
Now it’s hard to know what to believe. Advertisers are rarely held accountable for their claims.
Children are naturally very curious. J plays with the remote control for the TV and stacks blocks and stacking rings. He wants to know how things work.
We limit the number of electronic toys to the ones his grandparents/other family members give him. The same thing with movie and TV character toys. Since studies say that generic toys promote the most creativity and imagination, I’d rather that be the majority of what J has.
However – we live in a modern world. Technology is everywhere. We can’t really escape that. J grabs for my iPad and iPhone, and rearranges the apps (he’s deleted a few too). I monitor him and direct him to kid friendly apps. He usually loses interests after a few minutes and goes and plays with his blocks.
He watches an episode of Curious George now and then. I let him. But just one. Most of his day he spends playing. The majority of the time it’s with generic toys – a ball or a boat in the pool, or blocks. But he likes his Elmo from his grandparents too – though he hasn’t seen Sesame Street yet, so I doubt he has made the connection of who it is supposed to be.
So where is the middle? For us I feel like this works well enough. I know it’ll change and be modified as he gets older. As our culture swings from one extreme to another, forging the way to a happy medium is always a challenge.