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Parents embrace ‘Phygital’ play as benefit to children’s future, says LEGO study

British parents are starting to embrace the benefits of digital play for their children, a new study by The LEGO Group has revealed, finding that almost half of parents believe their child’s problem-solving skills have improved as a result.

In recent years, and amid the rise in the use of smart devices and tablets among children, there’s been a stigma attached to the idea of screen time and some concerns have been raised over the amount of time kids spend engaged with digital play.

However, the heightened use of technology in play has also seen the emergence of a new trend of interactive digital toys, and today, over a third (34 per cent) of parents now feel that their child is better prepared for the future as a result of engaging in this type of play.

Commissioned by The LEGO Group, who has this year launched its Hidden Side range, a new construction line that uses AR technology to span both physical and digital play, the new research also found that two in three (63 per cent) British kids have more fun when playing with digital toys.

The report investigates the fusion of physical and digital play, or ‘Phygital’ play, and surveyed 500 UK adults and 500 UK children aged between seven and ten about their experiences playing with both physical toys and digital toys.

While the report found children and parents to be increasingly receptive to digital toys, traditional toy-play was found to enable the most imagination for children. Over half (60 per cent) of kids stated that physical toys allow them to be more imaginative and it was found that over two-thirds (68 per cent) would like to see more toys mix the digital and physical world.

British parents were also found to be receptive to both physical and digital toys. A third (34 per cent) feel digital toys help prepare children for the future and 40 per cent feel it helps build their child’s creativity. Moreover, a quarter of (25 per cent) UK parents would like to see more toys merge play with digital or app elements, allowing children to get the best of both worlds.

However, proving that traditional toys are still firmly placed in the heart and minds of Brits, two in five believe that traditional toys aid manual skills and co-ordination and just under half (48 per cent) feel that their child’s social skills also improve as a result.

LEGO has issued its response to this trend with the launch of LEGO Hidden Side, a blend of physical and digital play via an AR enabled smartphone app that interacts with classic LEGO bricks. The app experience will continue to expand with the addition of new ghosts, new game challenges, and exciting new gameplay, giving longevity and freshness to the experience, every time kids play.

Anita Cleare, parenting expert and writer, said: “Digital toys can get a bad reputation due to the perceived stigma surrounding children and screen time. However, as the data shows, a balanced blend of both physical and digital play is hugely beneficial to your child’s development.

“Ensuring your child has lots of high quality inventive play-time, whether it be physical or digital, is paramount and will help ensure they are fuelling their creativity and imagination.”

Marius Lang, head of marketing for the UK and Ireland, added: “We’ve always been focused on inspiring and developing the creativity of the builders of tomorrow and we believe that ‘Phygital’ play is a new, innovative way of doing so, blending our traditional bricks that sit at the core of everything we do with an innovative new solution.

“LEGO Hidden Side is a totally new, experience-driven, story-supported play theme that blurs the lines between physical and digital play. It is the only play experience available today that seamlessly fuses augmented reality with physical constructions.”

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