And why toys win every time.
In 2018, on an Earth that has gradually – or not, in the scheme of things – indulged in technology, it was only a matter of time before our children were also succumbed to the world of virtual playtime and swiping from left to right on a screen. It was inevitable. Technology has had such an enormous impact on our daily lives. From almost unlimited communication to logging our doctors’ appointments in a calendar and letting us look busy while we sit awkwardly on our morning train commute when really, we are merely scrolling back and forth aimlessly through our Facebook feeds. It is undeniable, technology has changed the way the world goes around (not literally, obviously) and so why should that world of high-tech wonders stop spinning when it comes to our kids? Well, it shouldn’t. But here is a reminder of why traditional toys should always take the lead in the arms race against touch screens when it comes to our children’s introduction to this crazy planet that we are lucky enough call home.
My childhood memories consist of playing out in the streets on my bike or rollerblades until the sun went down and I reluctantly climbed down from a tree and went back inside at my dad’s persistent instruction. If I wasn’t outside with whoever’s parents I could persuade to let them come out and play, I was at home making my own friends with a wishfully ever-growing Betty Spaghetty collection. My imagination ran wild, I told stories so articulate that I am sure some of those dolls came to life once or twice. When I emerged from my fantasy world, I played board games or ball games with my family. We laughed and we argued, but the likes of Monopoly and Cluedo glued us together and some of the most notorious gameplays are still talked about today at reunions over Christmas dinner.
Going back down Memory Lane is not only a nostalgic experience, but it is also an insight into how much times have changed in such a short space of time. Back then, a tablet was something you swallowed when you were ill, a TV was a ginormous black box that had all of five, fuzzy channels to choose from and as for means of communication, we picked up a wire connected telephone or knocked on someone’s front door. I pestered my mum for disposable cameras which I proceeded to take awfully horrific photographs of what turned out to be just my cats tail (she always was camera shy) or the dolls that I’d arranged into photo-ready positions while rudely interrupting their tea party. I wasn’t surrounded by the virtual world that I am swamped by today and admittedly, I didn’t have much choice but to play with physical toys. Now, I wouldn’t change that for the world – however I do sometimes wonder what my younger years would have been like if I had been handed an iPad at the age of six years old.
Obviously, there are educational benefits from some of the electronical devices that children have access to today and it can absolutely advance them in some retrospect’s of this modern life that we lead. It can arguably improve children’s reading and maths skills and without a doubt their computer skills will be marginally (ahem, drastically - let’s swallow our pride) better when they reach our age than the majority of us are now. But really, what can beat the sheer joy of kicking a football around with friends and shooting between two floor-dumped jumpers on a sunny afternoon? Or the creativity that comes from dressing up three of your favourite Barbie dolls and playing out the best party of their life?
Technology will continue to dominate our lives until the end of our days and in so many ways that is amazing. It makes each hour of our time more efficient, generally easier and to an extent more interesting. But we are adults. We have (unfortunately) more than likely reached our imaginative capacities – those who haven’t are the lucky few. Children, however, are just starting out. Their young minds have so much to learn and so much ingenuity to sprinkle over this ever-innovative world. They need to run free and cause trouble and create imaginary drama between their gang of teddies before the real-life drama begins. I’m not saying never hand them an electronic device to explore, I’m just saying that no iPad or tablet will ever replace the brain-stimulating happiness of a traditional toy.
What can I say? Toys really do make the world go round.