Electronic toys affect language used during infants’ playtime

New York, Dec 24 (IANS) Does your toddler play with electronic toys that produce lights, words and songs? A new study warns that children playing with electronic toys get to make less use of language compared to those playing with books or traditional toys such as a wooden puzzle, a shape-sorter and a set of rubber blocks.

“These results provide a basis for discouraging the purchase of electronic toys that are promoted as educational and are often quite expensive,a said one of the researchers Anna Sosa from Northern Arizona University in the US.

For the study, the researchers conducted a controlled experiment involving 26 parent-infant pairs with children who were 10 to 16 months old.

Researchers did not directly observe parent-infant play time because it was conducted in participants’ homes. Audio recording equipment was used to pick up sound.

Participants were given three sets of toys: electronic toys (a baby laptop, a talking farm and a baby cell phone), traditional toys (chunky wooden puzzle, shape-sorter and rubber blocks with pictures), and five board books with farm animal, shape or colour themes.

While playing with electronic toys there were fewer adult words used, fewer conversational turns with verbal back-and-forth, fewer parental responses and less production of content-specific words.

Children also vocalised less while playing with electronic toys than with books, according to the results.

The study was published in the journal of JAMA Pediatrics.

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