For years parents and teachers have been fearing that one day hi-tech activities might take the place of real play for the lives of many children, and it looks like that day has finally arrived. The results of a survey of 2,000 British parents found that families spent an average of more than $15,000 on toys for each child before the age of 19. While we do not know for sure, many parents in the US probably spend even more.
As you know, vital to outdoor play are social skills development, language learning, and creativity. Here’s what’s happening:
- Parents are facing pressure to buy the latest toys and gadgets.
- Children are missing out on active play necessary for developing balance, coordination, motor skills and spatial awareness.
- Children are not getting enough vitamin D which has been found to be linked to eyesight problems and weight gain.
- Children are missing out on learning how to both collaborate and cooperate.
- Children are not getting the needed first-hand experience that teaches trial and error, risk-taking, discovery and how things work.
- Children are not growing sufficiently in the areas of imaginative play and innovative thinking.
- Parents are spending more time buying toys than playing with their children.
One British expert suggests a simple travel-sized box of traditional toys costing about $10 and a list of 50 games to accompany it. The box has colored threads, colored paper, pencils, small building blocks, modeling clay, beads, cardboard pieces and toy people.