A new study suggests the fewer toys kids have to play with, the better!
Published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development, researchers tested 36 kids between the ages of 18 months and 30 months under two conditions—playing with 16 toys and with just four toys—to see if kids would do more with less.
The authors, led by Alexia Metz, a doctoral student at the University of Toledo, concluded that, unsurprisingly, kids who played with four toys played longer with each toy. But kids who played with fewer toys also had “higher quality” play—that is, they played in a greater variety of ways with the limited number of toys than they did when presented with 16 options.
“This suggests that when provided with fewer toys in the environment, toddlers engage in longer periods of play with a single toy, allowing better focus to explore and play more creatively. This can be offered as a recommendation in many natural environments to support children’s development and promote healthy play.”
The philosophy of “less is more” seems intuitive—give kids fewer toys, and they are bound to play with them longer.
It also seems desirable in an age of over-consumption to limit the pile-up of stuff.
But the study suggests that longer play with a toy means more creative play, and that increased time with toys might help kids develop their attention span, which is very fleeting at that age.
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