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The Battle Between Interactive Toys And Building Blocks

May 18, 2008
It's very easy for parents to become wistful about the simple old toys of yesteryear, when toys demanded real imagination, and everything wasn't done for you. It's certainly possible to be quick to jump at toys today that do some much, labelled as interactive, and as far as your concerned, that means that they're taking away the opportunities for imaginative play, and that this is likely to be detrimental to the child's development and happiness.

Of course, the fact that it is very easy to jump to such conclusions doesn't always necessarily mean that they're right, and it is worth looking at not only what it is that these toys are contributing to a child's play experience, but also how much of a factor they really are in determining the form of play that the child experiences.

The term interactive can mean a wide range of things as far as manufacturers are concerned. More because of the fact that the term is still considered an advantage when it comes to marketing a product, toys can be considered as interactive just because they have a button on them which, when pressed, illuminates a character's nose, or produces a sound. In this sense, switching on a light could be considered interactive, yet few people would consider that a light switch was likely to detract from a child's overall learning and play experience. In fact, it would be possible to argue that such an experience is a valuable learning opportunity - with the child understanding more about cause and effect, linking their action to a consequence or result.

Interactive is all about this cause and effect relationship, teaching the child that if they do this, then that happens, and this is no more taking away from them the learning opportunity than the experience of 'if you run downstairs, you'll fall', or 'if you try balancing too many bricks on top of each other, they will collapse'. It is certainly possible to argue that in the case of the stairs, the child is also learning about safety, balance and physical control, and with the bricks, motor control, judgement and vision.

But before we get carried away with the idea that interactive toys are taking over the world, and in particular, our child's play and learning opportunities, it is important to understand two further things. The first, is to what extent children actually use the interactive features to the detriment or exclusion of other, more valuable experiences, and secondly, what experiences these interactive features can contribute to a child's well being and experience that other, static and traditional toys, don't.

Any parent who has invested a considerable portion of their pay packet in order to purchase the latest electronic interactive toy will notice is just how fleeting the initial enthusiasm is, and often a child will focus on using the toy in ways it wasn't intended, or in combination with other toys. Seeing an all singing, all dancing, flashing robot that uses half a dozen heavy duty batteries and can speak three different languages, sitting down, mute, next to a scruffy old teddy bear taking part in a traditional tea party is not something that will be unheard of. In fact, children very often take toys and interpret their capabilities in ways we couldn't foresee as easily.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant about kids toys, dolls, and video games. You will find the best marketplace for kids toys, dolls, and used video games at these sites for kids toys, interactive toys, building blocks, dolls, and used video games.
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