How Toys Impact Children’s Development

Michael Jayne shares his findings about how toys can impact a child’s development and why we might want to put a bit more thought into the toys we purchase and give our children.

Considering the amount of time children spend playing with toys, it seems strange that so little attention has been drawn to their contribution to development. It is even more surprising that the apparent disparity between girls’ and boys’ cognitive abilities in later years lasting into adulthood, especially concerning boys’ average higher aptitude for spatial and mathematical tasks or girls’ talent for empathy and language, has not been linked to the dualistic, gendered nature of children’s toys and the media.

Children Are Impressionable

Because of their heightened ability to take in information, children are also extremely impressionable. Their early experiences have a significant, lasting impact on their cognitive and social development. Thus, realizing the potential of the sensitive learning period is important to maximize the development of children’s cognitive skills. Increasing exposure to learning early in a child’s life can be accomplished even through choosing toys which promote development of cognitive skills.

Children are not only able to learn skills early on, but they can recognize and internalize social cues from their environment. Adults therefore have a responsibility to ensure that children’s potential to be influenced is used for good and not evil, and to prevent any internalizing of harmful information like prejudices and oppressive stereotypes.

Toys and Stereotypes Influence Children’s Development

….While some skills and systems require development in their respective critical learning period(s), others can be learned later in life. But generally speaking, it is far “easier” to do so at a young age.

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