With traditional toy sectors embracing technology and tablets boasting a wide range of educational apps for children as young as two, youngsters have more tech toys available to them than ever before.
While most children’s tablets come with a strong educational offering, an overwhelming majority of the independent retailers asked felt tech toys should be kept to a minimum when it comes to toddlers.
89 per cent of those asked felt tech toys should only make up between nought and 20 per cent of a young child’s toy box, while 11 per cent believed up to 40 per cent was acceptable.
A lot of the comments stated that tech toys have the potential to stunt a child’s imagination.
“It is easy for a toddler to get addicted to tech toys if they are not supervised properly,” says Dress-A-Doll’s Andrew Lord.
“Parents are losing sight of old fashioned traditional toys, but this is where parents love our ragdolls, because it is promoting fun and play without being sat behind a screen all day.”
The Enchanted Kids Company’s Melanie Jefferey agrees: “There is no need for toddlers to have any tech toys whatsoever.
“They largely do not teach them anything and certainly do not inspire imagination; creativity or any skills toddlers need to develop. They do not even introduce toddlers to fundamental technological skills, just the ability to press a button and get a response.”
Others didn’t go that far, believing that while they would rather youngsters play with traditional toys, tech toys do offer children a positive alternative.
“It is good for young children to get the hang of technology at an early age as they use computers at school from three years upwards,” says Cloud9’s Paul Brown.
“My two year old grandson loves VTech toys and also plays games on an iPad and iPhone (This is time controlled).”
Debra Scanlon at Looty Bag adds: “Tech toys do have a place as an education tool and for enjoyment as toys but there is so much more like outside play and reading from a hard copy book that is important as well.”
Read the complete list of responses below:
Raquel Bello, Carddies
“Of course, as one of the creators of Carddies – our traditional, creative retro toy – I am biased. But Carddies came about very naturally at the instigation of my children, it was not me inflicting the idea on them. They instinctively have always sought a significant amount of creative, imaginative playtime, which is not to say they don’t like a certain amount of screen time. As for most things in life, moderation is key. Toddlers need quiet time and noisy time. They need the chance to explore the world around them, to interact with other people and develop their imagination and creativity, as well as the ability to entertain themselves. Common sense tells us that excessive screen time, for all of us, toddlers included, can be addictive and ultimately frustrating, as well as alienating us from other people and the world around us.”
Susan Whyman, Childhood’s Dream
“No one ever learnt how things actually work by pressing a button. There is a lot of the world to explore and basic skills to learn before you need any tech toys.”
Paul Brown, Cloud9
“It is good for young children to get the hang of technology at an early age as they use computers at school from three years upwards. My two year old grandson loves VTech toys and also plays games on an iPad and iPhone(This is time controlled). His favourite toys are still the old traditional ones of push along trains and cars.”
Debra Scanlon, Looty Bag
From a parent’s perspective up to 20 per cent tech toys in a toy box is enough. Tech toys do have a place as an education tool and for enjoyment as toys but there is so much more like outside play and reading from a hard copy book that is important as well.
Andrew Lord, Dress-A-Doll
“It is easy for a toddler to get addicted to tech toys if they are not supervised properly so the number of tech toys should be limited to start with. Parents are losing sight of old fashioned traditional toys, but this is where parents love our ragdolls because it is promoting fun and play without being sat behind a screen all day.
Sue Needham, Cot ‘N’ Togs
“I think they should experience the feel of things, like nice wood and velvety fabrics. They should play with their contemporaries and develop an imagination. There is plenty of time for tech toys once they’ve started school.”
Sandra Sandle, Henchman’s
Technology has a big place in our society but young children should be encouraged to use imagination and dexterity skills as well as playing physical games with other children for maximum interaction. Putting a child in front of an iPad at the age of three is as bad as putting them in front of the TV on their own.
Mark James, Inspiring Toys
We focus on battery-free toys only, so believe toddlers should be kept well away from technology in their early years.
Tim Broad, Lighthouse Toys
Toddlers learn about size, shape, colour, communication skills and spatial awareness through playing with toys rather than using a phone or tablet and apps. There is a place for a few toys that incorporate simple technology and aid development of cause and effect and use of switches etc.
Melanie Jefferey, The Enchanted Kids Company
There is no need for toddlers to have any tech toys whatsoever. They largely do not teach them anything and certainly do not inspire imagination, creativity or any skills toddlers need to develop. They do not even
introduce toddlers to fundamental technological skills, just the ability to press a button and get a response: a skill that many animals easily pick up.
Julian Adjare, The Marble Run Shop
If tech means screens then it should be 0 per cent of a child’s toy box. If tech means a talking bear or musical toy, then up to 20 per cent would be ok in my opinion.
Zandra Johnson, Fairytale Children’s Furniture
There is some serious and worrying results published of recent research into the effects on the developing brain by the use of computer technology.
Cate O’Neill, Petalina
Surely technological toys limit the development of the imagination and independent thought? The lack of technology is what is so brilliant about playing with dolls because a doll will do anything that a child wants it to do because their play is all from their imagination. I’m not keen on dolls with functions for this reason because they limit the play to what they ‘do’. Long live simple old fashioned toys and books.
Paul Baker, Tiny Toy Shop
Too much too early stunts imagination.