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Science Entertainment

Fewer Toys Gives Kids a Better Quality of Playtime, Study Claims (nypost.com) 145

An anonymous reader quotes a report from New York Post: Toddlers with just a few toys were more creative and focused than tots with more choices, according to the study, published in an upcoming edition of the journal Infant Behavior and Development. For the study, University of Toledo researchers gave kids under age 3 either four toys or 16 toys and recorded their playing habits, according to the report. "When provided with fewer toys in the environment, toddlers engage in longer periods of play with a single toy, allowing better focus to explore and play more creatively," researchers said. Fewer toys "promotes development and healthy play," they concluded. The bah humbug-boosting findings may be one reason to skimp on the stocking stuffers -- but parents have another option. Simply keep more toys in storage also helps rein in the attention of scatterbrained toddlers, researchers said.

Fewer Toys Gives Kids a Better Quality of Playtime, Study Claims

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  • Toys? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:34PM (#55677491)
    For the most part, our kids had more fun with the cardboard boxes the toys came in than the toys themselves.

    Playing with a box encourages imagination. Playing with some intricate, structured toy just indoctrinates kids to fit in with societal expectations.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      For the most part, our kids had more fun with the cardboard boxes the toys came in than the toys themselves.

      Playing with a box encourages imagination. Playing with some intricate, structured toy just indoctrinates kids to fit in with societal expectations.

      Legos, meccanos are the best toys when it comes to letting your imagination go wild. Especially legos. Of course the ideal is to buy different sets and mix all the bricks together and let the toddler build whatever he wants. Young boys and girls want physical things.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Dirt and just being outside beats any and all toys hands down. No study needed.

        Please people stop paying for stupid fucking studies. Now send my 2 million dollars and we will call this even

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Legos sold out the moment they started sets with specially shaped pieces. The brick is perfect in its perfectness.

        • Legos sold out the moment they started sets with specially shaped pieces. The brick is perfect in its perfectness.

          The plain bricks are awesome ... at the proper stage of development. I'm fine with the idea of giving the littler ones a head-start with imagining the world they're trying to create.

          Successful learning requires the student to be put in a situation where they need just a little bit more than what they have at that moment to take the next step. That "little bit more" could be an insight from their own mind, or a connection with the group around them. The thing is, you can't frustrate the student by not giving

      • Old school Legos were good. A 7 year old accused me of playing with Legos wrong, because I made something that wasn't in the build instructions. I had the pieces to make a race car, not an air plane, those are wheels not propellers. Today Legos are just expensive model kits.

        When I was a kid, Fisher-Price had a toy line called constructs, kinda of a cross between Legos and an erector set (The old ones where you had all metal parts). I even had the set with a motor. So I can setup with belts and pulleys to

        • > between Legos

          You're almost there.

          Basically, the fun toy you need is between the legs.

        • Even when I was young, I had to follow the instructions while my brother was freelancing the thing. Itâ(TM)s the difference between an artist and an engineer I suppose.

      • Legos, meccanos are the best toys.

        No they aren't. There's no such thing.

    • by bozzy ( 992580 )

      Growing up we had part of a Slinky. But I straightened it.

      • Re:Toys? (Score:4, Funny)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @11:06PM (#55677665) Journal

        Growing up we had part of a Slinky. But I straightened it.

        You must have come from a wealthy family. All we had was a rock and a stick, and I had to wait until my older sister got dysentery and died before I could play with them.

        • Growing up we had part of a Slinky. But I straightened it.

          You must have come from a wealthy family. All we had was a rock and a stick, and I had to wait until my older sister got dysentery and died before I could play with them.

          Okay, time for this. [montypython.net] /thread

        • Oh, dysentery! Your family got one of those luxury diseases. We couldn't even afford the common cold virus. Dysentery implies you had access to water. We had to stand around all day with our mouths open hoping a stray raindrop would fall in.

        • by judoguy ( 534886 )

          Growing up we had part of a Slinky. But I straightened it.

          You must have come from a wealthy family. All we had was a rock and a stick, and I had to wait until my older sister got dysentery and died before I could play with them.

          You had a stick?!?

          Damn, we used to look through holes in the fence to see rich kids with a stick. Hell, we couldn't begin to afford dysentery.

          We had to beg on street corners just to rent leprosy for an evening. And not the good stuff either.

    • Reads a little too much like "BACK IN MY DAY, ye got a plank of wood for yer birthday!"

      Balance is important. Kids need some unstructured play and some structured play. Refusing to conform to societal expectations isn't a good thing across the board. And I see zero evidence TOYS indoctrinate kids in anything aside from maybe gender roles.
      • And I see zero evidence TOYS indoctrinate kids in anything aside from maybe gender roles.

        It's not the toys that do it, or at most, they play a minor role. My mom wouldn't buy me war toys (neither GI Joe figures, nor toy guns, etc.) but she would buy me masking tape, and I turned paper towel tubes and spark plug electrode protectors and an old button ripped out of a dead calculator and who knows what else and I made a goddamned gun and attached it to a tripod from a music stand and I had my very own imaginary stationary weapon. Refuse to buy me a toy pistol, I'll build a toy truck-mounted machin

      • Maybe, but it's not that far off reality. When I was young, we weren't rich, but we had enough money that my parents bought me a toy or two. Still, the most fun we (me + friends) had was when my mom brought home cardboard boxes from work (she worked retail and could take home the empty delivery boxes, we had a wood stove and they burned well). Those boxes came in all possible sizes, were sturdy (they were made from corrugated cardboard) yet easy to work with.

        In a nutshell, our favorite toys were Stanley kni

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      I tended to have one or two toys when I was growing up, or at least only one or two toys that I regularly played with. A six million dollar man airplane. An erector set. A friend and I would spend a lot of time playing in a VW van.

      I probably had more toys, but I don't know if even know I play with many different toys.

    • by murdocj ( 543661 )

      Yep. The best "toy" I ever gave my nieces was a play mat that had a small town (some buildings and roads) laid out on it, and a toy car for each of them. They loved it and spent more time playing together with that than they did with the other stuff they got that Christmas.

      And on the other side, I've seen kids get many, many presents. They'd rip open each present in seconds, glance at it, move to the next. It was like watching someone get incredibly hyper on 5 cups of coffee.

    • The most fun I recall as a kid was my grandparents letting us use their blankets, and we set up a big tent int he living room using chairs. We basically spent an entire day under the damned thing, even ate our meals there. They didn't have a lot of toys, but when you let kids actually use their imaginations and their wits to create fun, rather than handing them prefabricated fun, there's not just the pleasure of the fun, but the pleasure of the accomplishment.

      It's also why building mega snow forts is among

  • by Camel Pilot ( 78781 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:35PM (#55677495) Homepage Journal

    To include adults also... you know the saying -> The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys

    • I've never heard anyone who wasn't filthy-stinkin rich say this. Often to show off how much richer they are than the just very-wealthy person to whom they are speaking.
  • When I was a kid, my mind was my favourite toy. I would just run back and forth, sometimes I'd be an astronaut. Sometimes a knight. Sometimes a construction worker. Now I see 3 year olds glued to ipads... expect a hoard of drones to make up the next generation.

    Also obligatory walked uphill both ways get off my lawn etc etc

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      Tinker toys and lego were by far the best toys. They could be anything at any time. If you needed a laser gun, tinker toys to the rescue. Of course, a stick would do in a pinch.

      Of course, more structured toys were subject to being used to represent something entirely different whenever necessary. Absolutely nothing said Big Jim couldn't catch a radioactive fish and gain super powers.

  • by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:43PM (#55677539)

    To a point, the less choices people have, the happier they are with whatever they choose.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I think this is true.

      Back in the day when you rented physical video tapes, I'm sure I watched some shitty movies. But unlike Netflix, I didn't rent 3 tapes and then watch 1/3 of each them and feel like I had just wasted 90 minutes.

      I used to take my Walkman with me to classes every day -- something like 2 hours of listening time between walking, waiting, etc, and I maybe brought 1 extra cassette tape with me. Now it's like 6,000 songs on my phone and I can't listen to more than 3 in a row *on a playlist*

      • Could be... (looking at massive collection of Steam and GOG games purchased and barely played or not even downloaded)
      • I must not have ADD. I've never started a movie on Netflix and only watched part of it, especially not repeatedly. I might laugh at how bad it is, but I can at least commit to it.

        What you're saying has little to do with available choices and more to do with a short attention span.

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          My theory (and this may just be own rehashing/reinvention of the Paradox of Choice) is that the ability to make alternative choices with near zero transaction costs leads to an unrealistic expectation of gratification.

          With one VHS or one cassette and no easy way to obtain an alternative, I can either accept the gratification of something to watch/listen to or the alternative, which is nothing. At least in my mind, even a poor experience was better than no experience, even with the burden of some kind of bu

          • Of course, part of the reason this doesn't happen on Netflix for me is that I have a queue over 100 items deep with content I pre-selected when I had time to do it (and was more interested in browsing in a web browser than watching a movie).

            • by swb ( 14022 )

              I had a queue like that when I did DVDs, but when streaming became more common I got lazy and did that instead of the discs and ultimately cancelled the disc plan because I wasn't watching them. Another reason I cancelled is that many of the old/rare/niche movies I wanted to watch went from "some delay" to "long delay" to "unavailable" and the disc service lost a lot of value to me.

              Based on some basic back of the envelope calculations, I'd be better off just paying to stream content on-demand from wherever

              • Easy way for me is that every month there's a "What's coming and going from Netflix" article on Lifehacker, and use that to discover new movies or shows. I still have my disc subscription, but realized that I recently paid about $60 to rent one disc because I forgot about it since February. Turned out that the disc arrived cracked in half back then. Most of my queue is rare stuff anyway, so no streaming options. I would have to buy the DVD outright on a gamble - though less of a gamble than $60 to rent.

  • I would like a study on why the scientists spend time studying things that are obvious to nursery school teachers.

  • New Toys (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arzaboa ( 2804779 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:49PM (#55677577)

    When you have a never ending stream of new toys, the game is, "What's new."

    When you have a couple of toys, the game is "Let's play with this and try not to break it."

    --
    Transformers, more than meets the eyes"

    • Your sig line is oddly ironic in this context.

    • Agree.

      To add on to that, if there's an endless number and quantity of toys, they will only be played with in the ways they were intended to. Once a kid gets bored with a toy and can't just grab a new one, only then do they start making up their own games with them. That means the kids with lots of toys have less opportunity for the independent creativity and thought that makes free-play so much fun.

  • We have twins who are almost 1 year old. Already now, we limit the number of different toys on the playmat. You can see them indeed focusing better.
    I recently bought 2 bags of Megablocks by Fisher Price, kinda a Lego Duplo clone. So far we only gave them 1 set, and they are interested, not yet really building things, but examining the separate blocks, and interested when we put them together. I do hope that they soon start experimenting with building, it is good for creativity, spatial thinking and handine
    • Take your kids outside, they aren't in the phase of development where interaction is paramount, they're in the phase where observation is! They need to see the natural world work. They need to see the land. They need to see plants, animals, streams, and weather. They need to see life and death.

      Don't coddle your children in an artificial playpen where a great proportion of their instinct and intuition has no place.
      Unless you WANT to sabotage them for some reason.

    • We used to do much the same with our twins. We'd pack up a bunch of toys and let them play with the other half. After a week or two, we'd rotate the toys around so they were seemingly playing with something new. It works really well when they have quite short memories. Now they're 4 we don't bother with that any longer. However, they're much better at finding something to do than when they were 1 (probably as well they can, because despite my best efforts, they do have a tonne of toys).

      As for Press Here - I

  • by Lodragandraoidh ( 639696 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @11:35PM (#55677791) Journal

    I'm forced more and more to multi-task, and have a wider range of choices to make in any given day on the job. This has increased the overall output only slightly - primarily because my work requires research to get to the bottom of many questions - and has certainly eroded the quality of that output immensely - forcing 2nd passes across some items that are in error.

    I think sensory overload in all forms is a bad thing for human beings - regardless of their age.

  • Oops, never mind.
    Misread the headline as "Fewer Toys Gives Kids a Better Quality of Playtime, Santa Claims."
  • A toy presents a set of rules for play by its very nature. There are only so many things you can do with a toy before the object itself becomes irrelevant, and if you place importance on the object you cut off a whole range of free play.
    Which, to be stingingly honest, is the intent behind the entertainment industry, including toy makers. It's a form of social conditioning. Not unlike what the 'SJWs' say about Barbies, but they are generally very lacking in their interpretation of the scope of these measures

  • The more toys you have as an adult, the less amusing they all collectively become. Duh. I gotta brand this entire post as totally obvious.

  • This really sounds like an experiment where the outcome is heavily steered.
    Thinking rationally, a child will already spend much more time checking out the different toys when there are many. I mean, 16 toys, that takes awhile to browse through. With fixed time, it's pretty obvious that a child will play more with one of the 4 toys than 16 toys.
    Also, nothing was said about the environment. Was the child brought in a new environment like a clean room where he encountered the toys for this first time, hence
  • This is good information. i remember rowing up where i only woods for toys. this actually made more creative. Unlike having toys that are already made. this is good read and brings back good old memories. shout outs from https://www.identitypi.com/ [identitypi.com] team
  • Fewer Toys Gives Kids a Better Quality of Playtime, Study Claims

    This is true. Purely annecdotal but my kids select to play with very few toys (out of the many toys they have, too many IMO, which I'm trying to get rid of.)

    If I could do it all over again, I would simply select few quality toys (in particular of the lego or painting types). Dolls, cars, and stuff, most of them remain unused at home.

  • The war on anything traditional continues. Taking on giving toys to children, in an attempt to cancel out Christmas, another American & global tradition!
  • Before you guys through a fit: Yes, I was deeply into Legos myself and built many a adventurous contraption with Lego Technik (whatever the U.S. name of that is).

    However, developmental theory, especially in non-standard education systems, has it that the structure of Lego actually limits thinking outside or certain constraints and this is considered harmful for brain development below a certain age. No surprise here - Lego has strict limitations on order to be as "flexible" as it is.

    I'd go so far as to say

  • ...seems like what is going on here. Perhaps not having other options forces kids to come back to a toy or game that presented them with a challenge. I'm okay with this.

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