Apps Vs Actual Toys

Apps Vs Actual Toys

Over the years Ipads, tablets and smart phones have become very popular as young children’s “toys”. When you go out for dinner these days most children are given a phone to play on rather than pencils to colour with or toys to play with – it’s been a change in our society over the past 2 decades or so and it’s changing the development of our children!

There are certainly some positives for children using Smart devices in terms of educational benefits (some) and helping them understand technology for use in later life. However, these positives are being out weighed down by the negative impacts they are having, due to the way we as a society are using them.

I am NOT an ANTI IPAD mum! My kids all use the Ipad and my phone to “play on” and have done from a very young age (against most recommendations) BUT they are limited to a restricted amount of time and I sit with them most of the time so they are reaping the maximum amount of benefits from the technology.

Unfortunately In my experience as an OT I have spoken to some parents about the toys their children have at home and their answer has been “they don’t have toys, they just play games on my phone.” When this is further questioned a few parents have honestly believed that apps are a direct substitute for toys. This has saddened me greatly as children are coming to school with very poor fine motor skills. I have even had children point with their thumb as that is how they use the phone and their play station. Toys (and by this I mean actual plastic or wooden toys) provide so many amazing skills kids need for their future all while the child is having a wonderful time and this should be our priority!

 

There is a misconception in part of our society that apps are a direct substitute for toys

 

The following table breaks down what skills a child develops from playing an app version of a game VS an actual toy.

Game Skills the App develops Skills the actual toy develops
Shape Sorters Matching shapes children learn what 2D shapes look like, find the same shape and match them.
Hand Eye co-ordination – children do develop some level of hand eye co-ordination although only on a small scope.
 

Matching shapes – children learn how to match 2D shapes as well as begin to understand 3D shapes
Manipulation of items – Children learn to turn, flip, spin and angle the objects to fit them in the holes (great problem solving skills).
Visual Perception skills – Children learn that when an item such as a triangle is upside down it is still a triangle and they can turn it to make it fit. (Visual form constancy)
Hand Eye Co-ordination –   Children learn where their arm is and how to aim for a specific hole for the shape
Midline Crossing – Children have to reach further than their lap to pick up items which promotes reaching across the body and hence crossing their midline.

Puzzles Visual Figure ground – Finding the piece they are looking for amongst other pieces.
Visual closure – working out what the picture will look like even though it’s not finished.
Visual discrimination – the children look at the picture they are creating to find the piece that is the same as the part they need – they learn to analyse the finer features of the picture
 

Visual figure ground – Finding the piece they are looking for amongst other pieces.
Visual closure – working out what the picture will look like even though it’s not finished.
Visual discrimination – the children look at the picture they are creating to find the piece that is the same as the part they need – they learn to analyse the finer features of the picture
Visual form constancy – the children learn that even if the piece is upside down they can spin it around to fit in the puzzle
Manipulation of items – Children develop their fine motor skills to flip, spin, angle and match up the puzzle pieces.
Bilateral skills – Children use their two hands together to click the pieces together (one to support the completed part of the puzzle and one to attach the new piece.) This has a big impact on writing, cutting and overall school function.
Midline crossing – As the puzzle pieces are further than their laps they are required to reach into their surroundings which will mean their hands will cross over the other side of their body at some stage.

 

Memory Visual memory – Children learn strategies for remembering where the items are.
Visual sequential memory – children may try to remember the items in order to allow for a faster match
 

Visual memory – Children learn strategies for remembering where the items are.
Visual sequential memory – children may try to remember the items in order to allow for a faster match
Manual dexterity – Children develop their fine motor skills by flipping the cards over and back – possibly increasing speed
Accepting changes within visual memory – Children learn that the cards will not stay perfectly in line and spaced out – they learn to accept subtle changes within their environment and work.

Drawing and painting Drawing basic shapes – children can develop an understanding of how to draw basic shapes.
Motor control – Children learn how to draw straight and controlled lines (with a slight inconsistency based on how they use the Ipad).
 

Motor control – Children learn how to draw straight and controlled lines.
Sensory input – the touch of the paper, smell of the textas, paint etc. The friction the paper provides while writing with different drawing tools (paint brushes, crayons, pencils, textas etc). All of these elements help the brain to process what is happening more efficiently.
Pencil grasp – The child develops the muscles in the hand to move through a process of developmental pencil grasps.
Intrinsic muscles of the hand – Drawing and painting build up the muscles in the arm, hand and even the smaller muscles of the hand (called the intrinsic muscles)
Drawing basic shapes – children can develop an understanding of how to draw basic shapes

As you can see the actual toy provides so many more learning experiences!

These skills may not seem very important while you are reading them – but when you start to list the skills needed in a classroom – all of these “extra” skills the children are developing by using toys are frequently used in the classroom and are essential to classroom success.

A year ago I worked with a child in Kindergarten who didn’t know how to “play” with any toys – no pretend play, no imaginative play just lining the toys up, grouping them according to similar characteristics or placing them in size order etc. Upon further investigation it wasn’t due to obsessive behaviours (as I originally thought) this child had simply not played with toys and had only played apps that asked him to categorise pictures – he simply knew no better!

So please consider limiting your child’s technology time and allow them to play with actual toys as well as the apps as this will improve their abilities to a much greater extent and help them become better students at school.

 

3 Comment(s)

  • by Alana Posted March 31, 2016 2:05 pm

    OMG yes. As a kindy teacher I can not believe the lack of fine motor skills kids have. We were only talking about how this is the worst we’ve seen. Give them an iPad on the other hand and they gave no trouble working them. It’s really sad.

    • by Katrina Posted April 1, 2016 9:03 pm

      Yes Alana, this is the first Kindy cohort to have had Ipads their whole life (Ipads were introduced in 2010) – so the some of these kids have been playing with apps their whole development – it is likely to get worse in the coming years unfortunately -unless we can reeducate our society!
      Thanks for your comments!

  • by Leesa Johnson Posted May 18, 2016 7:59 pm

    Nice Blog, Newly I came across this app & I can say this is the best app for children. These apps serve a perfect sequence of inspired fun activities for kids of different age groups. Using this app, parents can make their kids learn with ease as it contains different kind of activities like Shape Sorters, Puzzles etc….

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