Too many toys leading to problems for kids



We, in the US, live in the land of ultra-commercialization with marketeers constantly influencing us into acquiring the latest gadgets, electronic products, house products, clothes, and toys which is leading to problems for kids. 

The holiday season is the time of the year when all of us rush to stores to get friends and family a collection of gifts that they might not really need.

Is this behavior actually healthy for anyone especially kids?

Carrie McKeegan, an American entrepreneur and CEO/ Co-Founder of a tax firm in South East Asia, was comparing the cultural differences between Asia and the US as she wanted to instill in her children a spirit of innovation and an entrepreneurial mind. 

She noticed that most kids in South East Asia were not receiving as many gifts but were more innovative in playing with the toys they had. She did not see them impaired by the lack of an impressive toy collection.


Laura Sanders in an article in ScienceNews talked about the University of Toledo in Ohio which ran a small study led by occupational therapist Alexia Metz. The study looked at 36 children between the ages of 18 and 36 months who visited the lab twice. The first time they were given four toys versus the second time when they received 16 toys and were monitored both times playing for a 15 minutes session.

The therapist was particularly interested in studying this problem for kids and how the number of toys would affect the amount of play time with each one, how many toys they would play with and if having fewer toys would foster creativity in using the toys in different scenarios such as imagining “a bucket as a drum or a hat”.

She found that when kids were given the most toys, they played with more toys and spent less time with each one.  When kids were given fewer toys, they spent more time with some toys, exploring others less. They were more inclined to engage at a more concentrated level with fewer toys. She also noticed that the use of creativity was more frequent. Metz stated that this type of sustained engagement might help kids learn how to focus their attention, which would be a lot more difficult to learn when exposed to a lot more stimuli.

She concluded that she was not able to assess the optimum number of toys but made us aware of the potential negative impact of too many stimuli which could result in a lack of concentration and attention always searching for something better and more exciting. She suggests testing the theory and possibly offering fewer gifts this year or hiding some of the gifts and rotating them later in the year when the child needs a new interest to avoid some of these problems.

Marietta Roswell Counseling is wishing you a happy and safe holiday season!

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