Study proves parents are right—kids play better with fewer toys


Parents: How often have your kids whined about being bored, and about having nothing to do and nothing to play with, all while being surrounded by the innumerable stacks of toys and books that are always scattered about the room? Makes you want to rip out your hair, right?

Now that the holidays here, friends and family are begging to know which toys they should buy for the little ones. Your thoughts? They don’t need more toys! They have too much already! Am I right?

Well, it turns out scientists have got your back on this one.

What Does The Research Say?

A study recently published in “Infant Behavior and Development” concluded that having more toys reduces the quality and duration of children’s playtime. Researchers from The University of Toledo came to this conclusion by observing 36 toddlers, split up into two groups. One group of children were given four toys to play with during a half-hour time period. The other group had 16 toys to play with during the same session. And in case you’re wondering, none of the children had the same group of toys, and only a handful were battery-operated.

According to the scientists’ observations, the children with only four toys showed more and better interaction with the toys they had.

“Fewer toys at once may help toddlers to focus better and play more creatively,” the study concluded. In other words, the kids with fewer toys played with each of the toys longer, and came up with a variety of ways to play with them.

Researchers believe that too many toys, on the other hand, can be a distraction for children.

“During toddlerhood, children develop, but may not have mastered, higher level control over attention,” wrote Dr. Carly Dauch in “Infant Behavior and Development.” “Their attention, and therefore, their play may be disrupted by factors in their environments that present distraction. The results of the present study suggest that an abundance of toys may create such a distraction.”


What Can You Do If Your Kids Already Have Too Much?

Experts suggest reducing the number of toys children have access to by using a toy rotation. Pack up a bunch of toys your child doesn’t play with all the time. Then, every so often, bring out a box with the “new toys” and put some of the other ones away. This will keep playtime more fun, interesting and easy to clean up afterwards!


Sure, your family may want to spoil your little ones this holiday season. But now you can tell them that scientists themselves say it’s not a good idea!

Holiday & Seasonal
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About the Author
Marie Rossiter
Marie is a freelance writer and content creator with more than 20 years of experience in journalism. She lives in southwest Ohio with her husband and is almost a full-fledged empty nest mom of two daughters. She loves music, reading, word games, and Walt Disney World. Visit Scripps News to see more of Marie's work.

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