WASHINGTON, DC – The so-called hot gifts for younger kids this holiday season may be digital, but the American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] suggest you give them the gifts of imagination and physical fitness.
“In other words,” says Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC], “give them old-fashioned toys that will stimulate their minds and, as the AAP put it in a new clinical report, seek out toys that ‘facilitate warm, supportive interactions and relationships’.”
Simple games, puzzles and building blocks, for example, offer benefits for children under 5 years of age that electronic playthings cannot provide. The report points out that “electronic toys by themselves do not provide children with the interaction and parental engagement that is critical to healthy development.”
The co-author of the report, Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, says that the younger boys and girls on your holiday gift list need gifts that stimulate interaction with their parents, siblings and friends. “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.”
Weber says that too many adults fall for ads touting the educational value of computers and video games. “Indeed, the AAP says that limited use of such devices, under parental supervision, may have some value but they do nothing to fuel their imaginations. Unfortunately, younger children these days spend too much time staring at screens. AAP guidelines suggest that kids under two years old should not be playing with electronic devices at all and that the use of such devices by kids between the ages of two and five should be limited to one hour or less.”
To fuel a child’s imagination the AAP recommends toys such as dolls, action figures, cars, make-believe cooking and/or feeding utensils. The Academy says that blocks, shapes, puzzles, trains help stimulate motor skills. And, card games, alphabet based playthings, and board games stimulate motor skills and help them conceptualize.
AMAC’s Weber says that holiday gifts for young boys and girls on your lists should also allow them to “get physical” by requiring them to exert themselves. “It’ll help keep them slim and trim and aid physical development. So don’t forget to buy them balls, tricycles and push toys. Not only will these types of toys help keep them fit, they help kids learn how to socialize. In other words, give them real toys, not hypnotic digital screens.”
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