"Research tells us that the best toys need not be flashy or expensive or come with an app."

Meghan Overdeep
December 6, 2018
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It’s something older generations have been hinting at for years, and now, just in time for Christmas, pediatricians are finally weighing in with an official recommendation regarding high-tech toys. Or should we say condemnation?

According to a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, simple toys, i.e. those without screens, are best. And that’s especially true for young children ages five and under.

"Toys have evolved over the years, and advertisements may leave parents with the impression that toys with a 'virtual' or digital-based platform are more educational," lead author of the report Aleeya Healey, MD, FAAP, said in a statement. "Research tells us that the best toys need not be flashy or expensive or come with an app. Simple, in this case, really is better."

In lieu of flashy electronics, the AAP recommends traditional hands-on toys and games that “fuel the imagination and aid in healthy development.”

It’s no secret that toys are key to developing children's brains—from language interactions and problem-solving, to social interactions and physical activity. And research has shown that the years between infancy and toddlerhood are crucial.

"The best toys are those that support parents and children playing, pretending and interacting together," Alan Mendelsohn, MD, FAAP, co-author of the report and associate professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Population Health at NYU Langone Health, explained. "You just don't reap the same rewards from a tablet or screen. And when children play with parents, the real magic happens, whether they are pretending with toy characters or building blocks or puzzles together."

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We know they’re an easy way to keep kids entertained, but electronic toys alone do not provide children with the interaction and parental engagement that is essential to their development.

The AAP also advises limiting screen time. According to their guidelines, total screen time— including television and computer use—should be less than hour hour per day for children two years or older and avoided completely in those younger than 18-24 months.

So, this year, do your kids (and grandkids!) a favor and spoil them with toys you enjoyed when you were little. Trust us, they’ll thank you later.