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New Study Reveals Building Blocks Better For Development Than Talking Tech Toys, Click-A-Brick Agrees

The team at Click-A-Brick has pointed to the recently published results of a new study that says more technology in toys isn’t necessarily a better thing. The study found that traditional toys like building blocks are better for children’s development than high tech toys designed to talk.

Done by researchers from Northern Arizona University and published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, the study sought to determine if talking toys helped or hindered children’s language development.

Researchers monitored the playtime between about two dozen parent-child pairs over the course of a year using a variety of educational toys to gauge the quantity and quality of communication and interaction between parents and their children while playing with the various toys. The children were aged between 10-16 months.

The toys used in the study included talking toys like a baby laptop, a talking farm that identified animals and a baby cell phone. Lead researcher Anna Sosa said she picked these toys because they are touted by the makers as being language promoters for babies.

Researchers also gave the child-parent pairs more traditional toys that included wooden blocks, a shape sorting toy and rubber blocks with pictures, plus books, and then outfitted special vests for the children to wear that contained microphones to record their interactions during playtime.

After the study was completed, the researchers found that books were the best at facilitating parent-child interaction, making for richer communication between parents and their offspring while traditional toys followed closely behind.

On the other hand, the electronic talking toys were found to stymie communication between parents and children, causing both to user fewer words and interact with each other less.

“Play with electronic toys is associated with decreased quantity and quality of language input compared with play with books or traditional toys,” the researchers wrote in their study. “To promote early language development, play with electronic toys should be discouraged. Traditional toys may be a valuable alternative for parent/infant play time if book reading is not a preferred activity.”

The study results come as no surprise to Click-A-Brick Co-Founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza, who have continuously touted the educational benefits of traditional toys like building blocks.

“It’s good to see studies like this that basically reaffirm what we’ve been saying since we launched,” Smith said. “We’ve always maintained that traditional toys -- as long as parents actually play with their children using those toys -- are better for their children’s development than high tech electronic toys that talk at kids. Like the researchers say, children need to converse with other people and a toy that simply talks at them doesn’t quite cut it. It’s not like we’re anti-technology in toys. In fact, we have tentative plans to introduce a line of mechanized Click-A-Brick sets later this year, but technology can’t be used as a replacement for the natural interaction between child and parent.”