Everyone wants a brainy baby, and many translate that into giving their children a plethora of learning apps on a tablet and a bunch of newfangled smart-toys. While smart toys are exciting and interesting innovations, there is really no substitute for the traditional toys of yesteryear.
For one, let’s look at what a baby needs to learn from playing. Some major skills that playing teaches children are socialization, cause and effect, problem solving, imaginative play, and creativity. Enter a smart toy. It takes so many of things out of the playing equation. Let’s take a tablet for example. Baby is playing a learning app about the alphabet, for instance. Sounds great right? But let’s look at it closer.
Is it teaching socialization? No, it doesn’t encourage the child to interact with others. How about cause and effect? It may hit on this a little, but not in the same way as building a tower of blocks and watching it fall to the ground. Are they learning problem solving? Not really, there are no problems to solve. How about imaginative play? Not really, there is only one way to play. Are they being allowed creativity? No the activity is structured and doesn’t really allow for creativity or imaginative play.
Now let’s take a look at an old standard toy, building blocks. Playing with blocks children develop social skills as they work together cooperatively to build. They are learning problem solving by seeing how they need to stack them to make a sturdy tower. They learn problem solving when a tower isn’t sturdy and they add another block. They learn imaginative play as they make houses, cars, animals, trees, literally ANYTHING out of the blocks. Simple building blocks teach all of these skills, not to mention the hand eye coordination developed in physically stacking the blocks with their hands.
While smart toys seem engaging and educational, when push comes to shove, traditional toys teach our children in a hands-on, fully engaged way that technology just can’t touch. Blocks, cars, dolls, shape stackers, and other traditional toys are popular for a reason, they have stood the test of time teaching a plethora of skills during play. So, maybe, smart toys aren’t really the smartest toys on the block after all.