Old-fashioned toys better for kids than video games, pediatricians say

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Even educational electronics and games aren't as beneficial for your kids as good, old-fashioned toys, pediatricians say.

The biggest problem with electronics is that most don't require interaction, at least not on the same level as physical toys, according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They say play is important for child development, but they still learn best from adults because that interaction gives them language skills, teaches them about how the world works and offers feedback that can reinforce learning and positive behavior.

“The truth is most tablets, computer games, and apps advertised as ‘educational’ aren't," the guidelines read. "Most ‘educational’ apps target memory skills, such as ABCs and shapes."

“These skills are only one part of school readiness. The skills young children really need to learn for success in school (and life) include impulse control, managing emotions, and creative, flexible thinking. These are best learned through unstructured and social play with family and friends.”

More basic toys like building blocks force kids to use their imaginations, use their hands and bodies, and express creativity. Electronic games, meanwhile, keep kids static and even those that require them to think don't require the same level of creativity.

The AAP recommends games and toys that encourage pretending, motor skills, art, language and physical play. When shopping, use caution when you see "educational" on the label, be aware of the potential for toys to promote race or gender-based stereotypes, and limit video game and computer game use.