Do Tech Toys Hurt Baby's Language Development?

Time to put down the "smart" toys and get back to the wooden blocks, says a new study.

A new study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has found that infants who play with tech toys featuring flashing lights and computerized talking and music, instead of traditional wooden playthings, tend to have a decreased quality and quantity of language.

Would it be in poor taste to say, "I told you so?!"

I've been against buying so-called tech toys for my kids since they were babies. I cringe when I see a little one tooling around on an iPhone at a restaurant instead of arranging Cheerios in a line, or gumming Mommy's keys. I mean, whatever happened to a teething ring, wooden blocks, and chubby crayons?

And whatever happened to play food, and teddy bears, and story books? Why must all baby toys beep, and light up, talk, sing, buzz, move, and mimic annoying adult devices we can't pull our noses out of?

End rant.

Children are currently spending more time with technology than they do in school or with their family.

For the study, researchers looked at parents and their babies, ages 10 and 16 months, playing at home. They noticed less verbal interaction between parents and children when an electronic toy was involved. Babies who played with books and more traditional items, like wooden blocks, tended to exhibit more back-and-forth "chatter" with mommy or daddy.

This is extremely good news for parents for many reasons, one being that tech gadgets tend to cost a lot! You know what's free? The Tupperware you already own. My baby will bang on a storage container for hours. Noisy? Yes. But so simple. It inspires imagination, and I'd much rather hear that banging anyway, versus some computerized voice, accompanied by repetitive music and artificial, flashing lights.

I also feel starting kids so young with tech toys sets a bad precedent. By age 2 or 3, they'll want their own iPads. By age 7, it's an iPhone. And getting them to talk to you? Forget it!

Okay, officially end rant. I promise this time.

What's your take?

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.


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