Infant-parent interactions are crucial for learning.
How you speak to and interact with your child influences how quickly your child learns.
The more words you say to your child each day, the more opportunity your child has for learning.
In modern family life, quality one-on-one time is sadly limited. Parents are often busy with work, housework, technology and other demands. There's often little community support like we once enjoyed.
Of course, infants still learn whilst you are busy sorting the washing, walking to play group and having lunch with friends. Your baby will still be hearing new words and seeing new things. However, one-on-one time spent with parents offers a strong opportunity for learning. It’s important to ensure parent-child interactions are as beneficial as possible.
A study recently published in JAMA, analysed the effect different types of toys can have on learning. Researchers found that traditional toys, rather than modern electronic toys, may be more beneficial for language development.
The early language environment of a child is known to influence language development which can later affect reading and academic success. Researchers wanted to investigate whether the type of toys used during parent-infant interactions could influence the language environment.
A small sample of 26 parent-infant groups were used during the study. The infants were aged between 10 and 16 months. The research study was conducted over a 14 month period. During that time, in-home parent-infant play sessions were observed by researchers. Electronic toys, traditional toys and books were used as play props. Researchers collected information about the language environment during play, including the number of adult words and parent verbal responses to child utterances.
Electronic Toys and Children's Language
Perhaps unsurprisingly, researchers found that the electronic toys were associated with a decreased quantity and quality of language input when compared with reading books or playing with traditional toys. Researchers advise opting for traditional toys or reading books to promote early language development. The was a small study with just 26 infant participants, so it would be interesting to see if similar results are achieved with a larger sample size.
There are hundreds of different electronic toys on the market and many of them claim to encourage development. As well as driving parents insane with their incessant flashing, beeping and music playing, these toys may actually inhibit language development by reducing the amount of parent-child interaction.
So, there you have it: finally a scientifically proven reason why you totally did the right thing when you took the batteries out of all of those annoying toys.
Recommended Reading: If you’re currently waiting for your baby to start babbling away, you might enjoy this article full of 9 Tips To Get Babies Talking.