Browsing the aisles of a toy store

Getting ready to do this morning’s Babytime program reminds me of how hard it is becoming to find developmentally appropriate toys for little ones. Browse the aisles of a toy section and you may be shocked if it’s been a few years since the last time you shopped. No longer will you find the toy where a child pushes a button and something pops up, or you shake a toy and it rattles. Now when the baby pushes a button, lights light up and buzzers buzz and things twirl. If you shake a toy gently, it might play an electronic song; shake it harder, and the sound doesn’t change–there’s very little cause and effect. Many of the toys are so wired that the gentlest of finger prods sets off a whole circus of response.

It wouldn’t matter if those were a few choices amongst others, but unfortunately it’s increasingly hard to come up with simple, appropriate toys to buy for the library or for home. This may sound like mere nostalgia, as we all believe whatever we experienced was in some way better. But I worry that all this disproportionate response and over-stimulation is going to create a generation of little guys that have a harder time sorting out the world, and maybe a harder time focusing on the kinds of quieter tasks where real learning takes place. That surely will have implications for libraries down the road.

What do you think? Am I needlessly concerned? Or is this an area where we should be trying hard to educate our parents? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

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