Toys are passé, right? Kids don’t want to play with them anymore. Why would they play with Legos and stuffed animals when they have video games on an assortment of devices? If you find yourself thinking this, think again: even though kids have more access to technology than they ever have before, toys are still very much in style. Video games have their place, but children still enjoy playing with real-world toys that stimulate their minds and bring them together with family members and peers. Here are a few reasons why toys are always practical and desirable gifts to give this holiday season:
They can encourage physical activity
Kids need to be active. Whether it’s playing sports or simply running around having fun, physical movement is healthy for both their bodies and minds. The American Heart Association suggests that children two years of age and older engage in a minimum of one hour of enjoyable physical activity every day (this hour does not need to be consecutive; two 30-minute or four 15-minute periods works too). A lack of exercise could negatively impact a child’s posture, eye functions, and heart, muscle, and bone health—not to mention their self-esteem.
Consider buying the children in your life toys that encourage physical activity. Soccer balls, jump ropes, and bikes are great for older kids, while infants and toddlers can benefit from rideable toys, rocking vehicles, play tunnels, wagons, and more. When you give children presents that make them enjoy being active, that love for activity can carry over later in life.
They can be educational
Toys are essential facilitators of childhood learning experiences. The right objects can develop a variety of children’s skills including motor, linguistic, social, and cognitive. Occupational therapist Alex Madisha says:
“The trick with getting children to learn is them having fun. If something is not fun, children soon lose interest. In this way, educational toys provide the necessary stimulant that triggers their curiosity and keeps them interested in a particular subject matter because of the playing and fun aspect of it… A lot of schools are now using educational toys to not only make learning fun but also to spark the child’s problem-solving skills and curiosity.”
Toys that include puzzles, models, illustrations, or other modes of learning can not only teach children about particular subjects (such as science, history, literature, and math), they can influence the way they approach the world itself. When children develop critical thinking skills early in life, they are more prepared to approach situations logically and to learn new things.
They reduce screen time
Media can be beneficial for children, but you definitely do not want your children watching hours and hours of YouTube trash every night. While the debate still rages over how much screen time is too much—new research suggests that the quality of the content is more important than the length for kids over six—giving kids activities that are not accessible through iPads, computers, social media, or other products is a good idea. You want to teach children that while screens can be valuable and fun, they shouldn’t rely on them for enjoyment.
They foster creativity
The best toys inspire and cultivate creativity in children. It might be a building set that encourages them to imagine their own sprawling cities, a miniature spaceship that they can run around the house with, or a superhero action figure they can devise stories for (don’t forget to include female superheroes, too—boys need female role models and girls often enjoy iconic figures just as much). It could also be a playset that they can play pretend inside, art supplies for creating masterpieces with, dress-up costumes, or anything that builds their imagination and teaches them to see opportunities everywhere.
You can play with them, too
You know what else is amazing about toys? They create perfect opportunities for spending time with your children. True, you can play video games with them, but sometimes it’s fun to sit down on the floor and build a model castle together. This environment requires you to communicate and solve problems together. Parent-child bonding time is essential (you can also play with nieces and nephews, grandchildren if the case applies to you, or your friend’s kids), and toys give you the chance to put your minds together and laugh.
Screens may abound in the world we live in, but toys are still critical for teaching children valuable lessons and developing their minds and bodies with a dose of fun involved. Don’t shy away from toys when you are gift-shopping at local stores or Jizels this year—what toys do you think the children in your life would have the most fun with (and benefit the most from)?