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Old Style Toys Are In

Old Style Toys Are In

By Hayley Birch

Best present you can give a kid?  A box.

We all remember Christmas afternoons spent turning empty boxes into spaceships and racing cars.  So why shell out all that dosh on a fancy  gift in the first place?  Just give them the box.  Not only will it give your senses a break from all the whirring, flashing musical nonsense that comes with a techno toy, it could actually be a psychologically superior gift.

According to scientists, new fangled toys and gadgets, don't give children enough scope for creativity.  Kathy Hirsh-Paseksay, a psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia, says so-called 'retro toys', such as balls, building blocks and crayons, could be more beneficial because they promise "brain growth".  Encouraging a child to use his or her imagination, says Hirsh-Paseksay, can be a more valuable part of their development than learning through electronic "educational" toys.

Hirsh-Paseksay also warned parents to beware of grand claims made on the packaging of expensive toys. “If it is promising that your child is going to be bilingual or learn calculus by playing with it, the chances are high that this is not going to happen – even with a tremendous amount of parental intervention.”  You don't say.

And if any little monkeys start throwing temper tantrums when Santa leaves clay and colouring books under the tree, just shut them in the box.  Sorted.

If it's value added toys you're after, you can't beat a cuddly microbe.  Creative play and you learn something about black death.  Can't say fairer than that.

Having said that, techno toys are quite fun...
- Why - Remote controlled lederhosen
- Just because - USB humping dogs
- Snappy snappy - Underwater digi-cams
- Squidgy squidgy - Space putty

Image: Richard Sweet

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24 May 2011
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