The adventure of learning

Does any other family have issues with finding educational toys? I mean, there is the current trend with the video games and all that but are they really educational? Do they have any practical value aside from keeping the kids occupied while you steal a few moments away for yourself? 
Toys children play with need to be of practical value. Net photo.
Toys children play with need to be of practical value. Net photo.

Does any other family have issues with finding educational toys? I mean, there is the current trend with the video games and all that but are they really educational? Do they have any practical value aside from keeping the kids occupied while you steal a few moments away for yourself? 

Over the past decade, video games have seen a big boom in popularity and improved technology as technology continues to advance. As a result, there are now video games targeted at very young children, and not just the teenagers.

This has caused more and more young kids to want their parents to buy them video games instead of the usual traditional toys, like puzzles, building bricks, dolls, board games, balls, outdoor games and other conventional games.

In fact more recently even the preteen children want more of their parents’ toys than those designed for children; they want smartphones, iPads and iPhones!

Naturally, the business world is also milking that to the maximum! More and more smartphone applications are being developed for the children’s market (requiring the parent to spend on them of course).

Even with the deeply interactive and without a doubt interesting and entertaining phone applications for children, I am still rather skeptical about the way all things “techy” also seem to be taking over the market for children’s games, in particular the video games.

As video games have improved over the years, it is true that there are many of them out there that do have benefits for children.

There are educational games available that do teach children specific skills, while others challenge kids to solve problems like simple arithmetic or spelling and/or develop hand-eye coordination. I will readily acknowledge the benefits of the ever advancing technology.  

The problem is that those benefits have limitations and there are certain things that technology on the whole or video games in particular are simply never going to be able to provide for our children.

Traditional toys have a social aspect that video games and applications will always lack. Video games may be multiplayer, but the children are only interacting with other people virtually, while traditional toys encourage children to interact and socialize on a more personal level.

While using toys such as ball games, puzzles, building games, children will be sharing and communicating with others, speaking face-to-face, learning to negotiate, accommodate, compromise and really build relationships and meaningful friendships.

On the flip side, one of the biggest downfalls to video games is that they require kids to sit for hours in front of a television or computer screen. Their brains may be working, but their bodies are typically idle.

They miss out on physical exercise among other things and they are typically physically unfit. If they had traditional outdoor toys, they could be running, jumping, kicking, and throwing giving their muscles as much exercise as the brain. 

I guess the fundamental issue here is to find where to strike a balance between the interesting educational aspect technology can bring to the learning and entertainment environment versus the unquestionable benefit of key socialization and interpersonal skills. Learning never stops, so in my humble opinion we must try to make an adventure out of it – not a chore.

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