Electronic Toys May Slow Baby's Verbal Growth

Electronic gadgets that interact with babies may actually slow the development of their verbal skills.

That's the conclusion of a study at Northern Arizona University that found that when toys talk and sing, babies aren't as likely to.

The study involved 26 pairs of parents and their children aged 10 months to 16 months. Using audio equipment, the researchers recorded the sounds in the participants' homes to monitor their playtime.

Each family received three sets of toys. The first set included electronic toys, such as a baby laptop, a talking farm and a baby cellphone. The second set contained traditional toys, including wooden puzzles, a shape-sorter and rubber blocks with pictures. The participants also received five board-books with farm animal, shape or color themes.

The researchers ultimately found that the electronic toys that talked, lit up and sang songs were less beneficial for language development than the traditional toys or books. They produced a lower quantity and quality of language among the babies than other traditional toys.

The scientists observed that when the kids were playing with electronic toys, their parents spoke less. There were also fewer verbal exchanges between the parents and their babies, and the parents responded less often to the kids.

Books apparently produced the most verbal exchanges between parents and their babies.

The researchers acknowledged that their study was small and lacked diversity--most of the families came from similar backgrounds.

But they suggested that the research reinforces the importance of parents interacting directly with their young children instead of letting toys do the job.

Don't miss this week's Slice of History: The 1st Octuplets

Sourced from: New York Times, Traditional Toys May Beat Gadgets in Language Development