Ever heard of the terms ‘smartphone parenting’ or the ‘techno-baby’?
These terms are being increasingly common place in the UK whereby parents are often opting for smartphone devices and apps to keep their children entertained – they fit neatly into your pocket, are durable and provide hours of endless entertainment from games, to movies to books – but have you ever thought about the negative affects it could be having on your child?
A study by the Cohen Children’s Medical Centre in New York, has found that children between the ages of 0-3 years old who played a non-educational game on touch-screen devices were found to have slower verbal development. The study which quotes Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja as examples of games with zero educational value, were also alarmed to find that parents were increasingly substituting books and toys for smartphone devices, with children averaging 11 months for their first smartphone usage – with an average of 36 minutes daily usage.
Dr. Malanaik, chief investigator said “Technology can never replace a parent’s interaction with his or her child. Just talking to your child is the best way to encourage learning.” This worryingly increasing trend may be having a detrimental effect on our tiny tots physical, social and emotional development.
On top of this, parents should also consider how damaging their own consumption is as this can ‘certainly detract from the attention parents give their children’. Over 91% of smartphone owners check their phones on average of 150 times a day (NBC, 2014) – and this sends out the wrong message to children who look to their parents as role models, indirectly teaching them “It must be important to communicate with people through electronic means because I see my parents do it”. Children learn primarily through observational learning, especially their parents’ attitudes and behaviours.
Whilst some games, apps, shows etc. can be extremely educational and rewarding, at Bigjigs we believe you cannot beat a good old fashion play session using tangible toys. Here are our top 5 reasons why you should ditch the smartphone or tablet, in favour of the toybox:
- Developing language -Children to develop their language and speech skills by interaction with toys. Inquisative play sessions will allow parents to feed idea’s, questions and feelings which will often help children build confidence and partake in conversations.
- Developing fine motor skills – Play sessions encourage children to develop fine motor skills such as grasping, picking up, releasing, imitating and copying patterns. Toys enable children to build up their ability to co-ordinate how their body works whilst increasing their strength.
- Encouraging cognitive thinking – Even though youngsters learn about cause and effect from an early age (i.e. if I cry, mummy and daddy come, if I laugh, mummy and daddy laugh), toys help to encourage cognitive and lateral thinking – the perfect example being a puzzle whereby youngsters have to problem solve to complete the task, and this is only done by trial and error with making the pieces fit.
- Developing social skills -Toys are great way to encourage socialization and to develop those all important social skills. Learning to share and getting along is a key part of growing up, and by using toys as props, youngsters can learn to deal with social situations from an early age.
- Encouraging creativity, imagination and freedom – A great thing about toys is that there are many ways to play with them, i.e. one child might use the play pieces as a story, whilst another may use them as building blocks – neither child is wrong. By allowing children the expression of freedom – creativity and imagination ensues, allowing children to develop their thought processes, and to become more active in achieving the 4 points above.
So next time you pick up your phone – think twice.