Screen time for kids is a major concern amongst mamas, but that doesn’t mean you need to ignore technology completely. Here are some expert picks on the best tech toys for kids, starting from birth!
If there’s one thing we know regarding screen time for kids, it’s that it sure isn’t recommended for little ones before the age of 2 (although it looks like the black and white stance may be changing). Research has shown that children below the age of 2 do not have the attention span to watch an entire television cartoon. Hence, putting your child in front of the Television or giving him/her your iPad may not be what interests them at that age anyway! However, at the same time, we all know how much we rely on technology in our daily lives, and that it has become so deeply entrenched within our daily habits that we can’t do without it.
In today’s digital age, it is difficult to avoid early brushes with technology. Instead of avoiding it altogether, what we can do is to ensure that we manage the introduction of technology and also control our little ones’ exposure. Anyone who’s struggled with a phone-grabbing 3-year old will know that it can be very tempting to rely on our phones or tablets as ‘tech-nannies’ for our kids, but we all know that the long-term effects can be detrimental to their development.
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Instead, let’s make use of the advancements in technology today, to arouse curiosity and creativity in our young ones. It is extremely critical that technology be used not as a replacement for time spent with our kids, but rather, as a supplement to foster better learning and enthusiasm with our kids. For that, not all technology comes with screen time mamas! Let’s find other ways to keep them occupied. Here are a few age-appropriate picks for littlies of all ages:
Newborns: Cot Mobiles
At birth, babies are only able to focus on objects 8 to 10 inches from their face, and they only gain the ability to follow moving objects and reach for things from 3 months onwards.
Here’s where the age-old cot mobile comes into play, with rotating motions and cute toys to engage them and different music options to sooth a crying baby. An oft-used device as part of their nightly routine for overtired new mummies, this will likely be the first brush with technology for many kids.
Do note that light projection is not recommended until about 4 months of age, when the baby has developed the ability to differentiate colours.
1-Year-Olds: Talking/Singing Toys
Talking, singing soft toys such as Scout and Violet from Leapfrog which can function as your child’s companion, and teach them new songs or entertain them with stories when you are busy in the bath, doing the laundry or having your meals. With your child listening to the soft toys sing his/her favourite songs that you have been singing to them daily, it is only a matter of time before they start to hum the tune or pick up the lyrics! This is the age when our littles begin to be more vocal and understand the meaning behind their words, (Eg. “Papa” – referring to daddy, and “Mama” – referring to Mummy).
2-Year-Olds: Remote-Controlled Vehicles
Give your increasingly mobile 2-year-old his/her first remote-controlled car and let them develop their motor skills by managing the remote and understanding motion and consequence. Models such as Kid Galaxy’s Go Go School Bus is the perfect first R/C for tiny tots. The best part is the controller that comes with it; made of soft cushy material, perfect for satisfying our throwing toddlers, without damaging the toy or its surroundings.
Newly launched this year, the the Fisher Price Code-a-Pillar comes with many benefits for our 3-year-olds. This cute and colourful toy is suitable for kids from 3-8 and teaches them basics such as sequencing and problem solving. With its constant smile and blinking eyes, it’ll be a natural hit with the kids. Each segment of the body represents a particular command and the order of which the segments are connected will determine the actions of this cute code-a-pillar.
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4-Year-Olds: Modular Robotics
Engage your 4-year olds with Hexbug Nano sets, a modular system that introduces your child to robotics. These robotic ‘bugs’ run on vibration and mimic real bugs. The track expansions allow your kids to keep building until they achieve their habitats. Perfect for hands-on fun for them and their friends during playdates!
5-Year-Olds: Scratch Junior
At an age where some tablet time can be used to supplement learning, the newly developed ScratchJr for kids aged 5-7 (free to download) aims to introduce productive screen time by enabling them to program their own interactive stories and games. In the process, they learn to solve problems, design projects, and express themselves creatively on the computer. Children snap together graphical programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing. They can also modify their characters in the paint editor, add their own voices and sounds, even insert photos of themselves — then use the programming blocks to make their characters come to life. Comes with a guidebook as well.