High tech toys= low creativity? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

High tech toys= low creativity?

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November 25, 2002

Albany- Chances are high-tech toys will be topping your child's Christmas list. And why not? Kasey the Kinderbot can talk, walk, and teach French, enough to keep any kid entertained, all with the touch of a button!

No effort, no creativity, no imagination needed. So are today's computer chip driven toys chipping away at your child's creativity too?

"Children learn through play...," says Albany State University Professor Dr. Beard.

Dr. Audrey Beard has been teaching Early Childhood Education for years, and says children learn better when they are engaged. "Quite naturally if you have to take something and build something to make it go, it takes innate motivation; you're engaged, you have to think, you have to figure out, so you're using more skills than putting the battery in and mashing the button," Beard adds.

So should we pass up battery-operated toys and purchase only those that spark imaginative play? Dr. Beard says no.

"I don't think there's any particular way. I'm not going to say if your child is engaged in all high-tech toys he will become this brilliant child, and I'm not going to say if you only give kids building blocks and the simplest tools and they always construct everything, then they will be a brilliant child. I think that there's a balance," she says.

Other Early Childhood education experts agree.

"They get to learn through the smallest computer-operated toy. They get to learn and then it gets a little bit more and more difficult, but it's very good to introduce them to those types of things. I don't think they should play with those in isolation," contends Bisa Lewis, Director of Early Childhood Education at Albany Tech.

And both toy manufacturers and toy stores have responded accordingly. If you walk into any toy store you can't even turn the corner without running into a high tech toy.

Toys R' Us had thousands of kids test toys and then they compiled a top ten list for Christmas toys...and this year tech toys are hot items.

"Leap Pad actually starts at two and goes to five. You're able to read books which allows you to match words and so forth. It teaches you colors and that type thing. It's been around now for about two years, and that's been one of the biggest sellers," explains Herbert Brown.

Store director Hebert Brown says the demand for the Leap Frog line is so high because parents want to buy educational toys.

"It's more of learning now. Everybody that comes in now is asking for something that's gonna teach something. I don't know if it's because Georgia is said to be behind as far as learning, but everybody is geared toward buying something that's gonna teach their child something or their grandchild something," adds Brown.

There's even an electronic toy line that targets the littlest toy lovers. "This item here is like an aquarium. They changed it, they had a different one last year, but this unit has been a real popular unit for a younger baby," Brown explains.

High tech toys like Playstation 2, and Game Box, as well as Karaoke machines are also a this seasons' must-haves. But the list doesn't reflect a complete out with old in with new philosophy.

"Belive it or not, this thing is going," says Brown pointing a wooden train set.

There seems to a consensus between the experts and child toy testers that both high and low tech toys should be under the tree. Now its just up to parents to shop smart and buy in balance.

Three quarter of all toys on the market include some kind of computer chip, and on average tech toys are more expensive than others because they require batteries or electricity...an added expense.

Posted at 3:10 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com