Too Many Toys?

June 2019

Full interview with Dr. Alexia Metz:

TOLEDO, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Play is a critical part of a young child’s development. Toys can be terrific learning tools—and, of course, they’re a lot of fun for kids, their friends, and their parents. In fact, surveys show that Americans have upwards of 100 toys for their children to choose from at home. But a new study suggests that when it comes to toys, think quality over quantity.

Like most preschoolers, Lincoln and his sister Adeline hit a playroom hard, checking out everything the floor and storage shelves have to offer.

“They definitely like imaginative play or things they can build or knock down,” said their mom.

Play builds spatial skills, motor skills, and social skills. But when talking about toys, can there be too much of a good thing? Social scientists at the University of Toledo studied groups of toddlers during free play sessions. In some sessions, the kids had four toys to play with; in others, they had 16.

“When there were 16 toys in the room, those incidences were much shorter, more along the lines of a minute apiece where they’d pick up the toy, give it a once over, but already be looking at where they wanted to go,” explained Alexia Metz, PhD, an occupational therapist at the University of Toledo.

When the kids had just four toys, the interactions were almost twice as long, suggesting that the kids had time for quality play—meaning they used the toy in different ways beneficial for development.

“As they grow older, they build that into a longer attention span, better problem-solving ability, and [greater] persistence with tasks that might be challenging or frustrating,” detailed Metz.

Metz said a smaller number of toys could limit distractions. She says parents might consider putting some toys away and rotating a few out at a time.

Metz said, “I think this study is encouraging that not having a gazillion toys at home is not necessarily a bad thing.”

Metz said she and her colleagues would also like to study different age groups to assess the impact of the number of toys on play at different age groups.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Dave Harrison, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.


Spanish Translation

TOLEDO, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — El juego es vital en el desarrollo infantil, y los niños aprenden y se divierten jugando. Es una forma además de unir a los niños con sus amigos, sus hermanos y sus padres. ¿Pero cuántos juguetes son demasiado? Un nuevo estudio indica que, en juguetes, la calidad del juego supera a la cantidad.

Lincoln y su hermana Adeline son dos terremotos, y pueden volver un cuarto de juego del revés. El juego ayuda en el desarrollo de las habilidades motoras y sociales. ¿Pero cómo afecta a los niños el tener demasiados juguetes? Expertos de la Universidad de Toledo estudiaron a un grupo de niños de preescolar mientras que jugaban a su antojo. En unas ocasiones los pequeños tenían cuatro juguetes a su disposición. En otras tenían diez y seis. Cuando los niños solo tuvieron cuatro juguetes los usaron el doble de tiempo. Esto significa que sacaron más partido a cada juguete usándolo en formas diferentes. Algo que desarrolla mayor capacidad de atención, mejor capacidad para resolver problemas, más perseverancia y menos tendencia a rendirse ante una tarea difícil.

Según el estudio menos juguetes significa menos distracciones. Los expertos aconsejan que los padres roten los juguetes, sacando solo unos pocos a la vez.

Los expertos indican que hace falta realizar estudios a mayor escala y con niños de diferentes edades, para determinar el impacto del número de juguetes.

Los contribuyentes a este reportaje incluyen: Cyndy McGrath, Supervisora  Y Productora de Campo; Dave Harrison, Editor; Kirk Manson, Camarografo.

Producido por Child Trends News Service en asocio con Ivanhoe Broadcast News y auspiciado por una beca de la National Science Foundation.