Basic, Non-Electronic Toys May Be Better for Parent-Toddler Communication Some tech-enhanced children’s toys are marketed to parents as beneficial for language development—but they may not be nearly as effective as basic toys, new research finds. Electronic toys, such as talking farms, baby laptops and baby cellphones, lessen the quality and quantity of verbal interaction parents have with children when ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   March 01, 2016
Basic, Non-Electronic Toys May Be Better for Parent-Toddler Communication
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Development / Professional Issues & Training / Normal Language Processing / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   March 01, 2016
Basic, Non-Electronic Toys May Be Better for Parent-Toddler Communication
The ASHA Leader, March 2016, Vol. 21, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.21032016.12
The ASHA Leader, March 2016, Vol. 21, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.21032016.12
Some tech-enhanced children’s toys are marketed to parents as beneficial for language development—but they may not be nearly as effective as basic toys, new research finds.
Electronic toys, such as talking farms, baby laptops and baby cellphones, lessen the quality and quantity of verbal interaction parents have with children when compared with no-frills objects like blocks and board books, says Anna V. Sosa, associate professor of communications science and disorders at Northern Arizona University and lead author of the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Too much electronic talking may put parents on the sidelines of communicating with their kids.

Although previous studies have determined that the amount and quality of language exposure children receive influences their language development, Sosa and her team focus on the type of toy, and how too much electronic talking may put parents on the sidelines of communicating with their kids.
The researchers recorded interactions between a small group of mostly white, educated families—either a mother or father and a child, 10 to 16 months old—over three days, playing for two 15-minute sessions each with three separate groups of toys: electronic talking toys; simple toys like animal puzzles and blocks; and board books about animals, shapes and colors.
Parents on average used the most words per minute (67) when playing with books, compared to 56 words per minute with the puzzles and blocks, and 40 words per minute with the electronic toys, which also yielded the fewest conversational turns, child vocalizations, parental responses and content-specific words (meaning words the toys were meant to elicit, such as animal names, colors and shapes).
Given the results—which remained the same across age and sex of the babies, as well as whether the parents considered themselves talkative—Sosa recommends parents limit play time with electronic toys and focus more on activities that promote parent-child interaction.
2 Comments
March 5, 2016
Robin Kanis
What's new?
There is no surprise here. We SLPs and audiologists frequently should remind parents that they need to become their children's favorite toys!
March 14, 2016
Jerod Michael
"May"
Is it safe to step beyond the diplomacy of publication and change "may" to "definitely"? We all know that the more is done FOR a child, or the less that is demanded OF the child, the less the child will need to develop. I'm referencing this in my school's newsletter this month (reluctantly, in more diplomatic language).
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March 2016
Volume 21, Issue 3