This year Christmas shopping for my children was one of the hardest year’s yet. When they made their lists, I let them flip through the toy store catalogues and to get ideas. To my surprise, most of what they put on their lists were electronic. I figured maybe these are just the items that are more heavily advertised. As I examined further I realized a lot of the catalogues were comprised of electronic toys. Even traditional games seemed to now include and electronic component.
Toys that play themselves
For example Monopoly now features an electronic banking version. The players can actually use a credit card! No silly counting and learning the basics of finance for these kids. They can just charge it and have an in game calculator add and subtract for them. I remember the banking and playing with fake money as being one of the funnest parts of Monopoly.
This year there was a whole section of mechanized robots, electric powered scooters and toys that required a smart phone to play. This would be expected if I were talking about older kids maybe middle schooler or early high school since they tend to gravitate more towards electronics by that age anyway. These gifts were geared towards elementary age children. Ages where learning social and developmental skills found in play are still vitally important.
I am not against technology mind you. Some video games are fun, can be a great time to bond with your child and can promote strategic and creative thinking. However, as I perused these catalogues it seemed a lot of these toys would basically play themselves. No building, pretending, or imagination required.
Toys that last generations
A few years ago, I remember listening to a podcaster who stated she sticks to traditional toys for her kids. She found they would play with the new toy for about a day, get board of it and return to their block, Legos, or dolls. She believed the new toys don’t engage a child’s imagination. They basically do everything while the kids watch. Because of this, the interest in these types of toys is lost after the novelty wears off. They are left in the toy box while the old favorites are brought back out.
I never really thought about this idea until my children became school age. However, I can attest that it is true. All to often (mostly at my husbands insistence) we have shelled out big bucks for an electronic item only to see them go back to playing Legos or Barbie’s after a few weeks.
That being said, this year, I was to late to the electronics party and most of these items were sold out. Such a bad thing. When I look at the items my children play with most and always return to they are as simple as you can get, a notebook, pencil and crayons for drawing and writing stories.
These simple tools take them on new adventures, engage their creativity and give them endless hours of fun. Maybe my children won’t have the newest fad toy out there this year but they will have toys that have been fun for generations. They will have toys geared towards active play. Items to help them grow, imagine and create a world that is their very own. When holiday shopping this year, remember simple is better.