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Don’t Let Technology Drain Your Kids' Creativity & Imagination

Children Learn While Playing
In perusing the abundance of toys available these days, I am always amazed at the number of them that light up, make noise, move on their own, etc. It seems like everything has to have something electronic in it any more. And the number of “screen” toys aimed at our kids (even young kids) seems to grow daily.

Now, don’t get me wrong, these toys can be fun and even educational, and I love a good video game as much as my kids (Lego games are my favorites), but what happened to imagination and creativity? What happened to kids making the toys “move” and “talk” and creating their own adventures and constructions? I think with all the toys these days that “imagine” for us, we are losing some of our own creativity and imagination along the way.

Kids, especially when they are young, learn about the world around them through hands-on play with 3-dimensional objects as they manipulate, interact, and engage using their different senses. Decades of research shows that this type of play maximizes learning and development of the brain.

Open-ended toys - things like blocks, stuffed animals, cars, and dolls - are very important for learning and imagination building. The late Fred Rogers (of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood) put it best…

Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.

Kids Playing with Zoobies Stuffed AnimalsWhen kids play with open-ended toys, they learn important life skills such as problem solving, cause and effect, creative thinking, and imagination. Role play can even help kids learn to work though feelings and concerns they may be experiencing.

As parents, we try to limit the amount of time our kids sit in front of the TV. But, if they then simply go on to engage in another screen/electronic - be it an interactive toy, iPad, video game, flip-down monitor in the car, etc. - we are limiting the time they have to learn and grow using their senses and individual imaginations.

Help your kids learn the joy of imagination by providing them with toys that promote creativity and open-ended interaction. Foster imagination in yourself, as well, by taking a break from the screen and playing with your kids. After all, playing house, stuffed animals, or cars with your kids can be wonderful for stress relief and relationship building.

For more excellent reading on the benefits of imaginative play for kids, please check out the following articles.