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Feiler Faster

From my experience, this article about tech for tots is dead-on. The Times says the hot toy items this year feature a screen and allow preschoolers to emulate their parents. Forget the toy phones, we want REAL phones Mom and Dad. But with screens now overshadowing
wheels and dress clothes on toys, sounds like we have to start monitoring toy-time as well as tv time. Call me fuddy (my mother-in-law does!), but I certainly think so.

“The bigger toy companies don’t even call it the toy business anymore,” Mr. [Jim} Silver of Toy Wishes said. “They’re in the family entertainment business and the leisure business. What they’re saying is, ‘We’re vying for kids’ leisure time.’ ”
Technology has been slowly permeating the toy business for a number of years, but the trend has been accelerating. On Wednesday, six of the nine best-selling toys for 5- to 7-year-olds on Amazon.com were tech gadgets. For all of 2006, three of the top nine toys for that age group were tech-related.
The trend concerns pediatricians and educators, who say excessive screen time stifles the imagination. But more traditional toys — ones without computer monitors, U.S.B. cables and memory cards — are seen by many children as obsolete…
Wiring toys for a young audience is worrying some children’s advocates and pediatricians. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against screen time for children ages 2 and younger, and it recommends no more than one to two hours a day of quality programming on televisions or computers for older children.
Donald L. Shifrin, a pediatrician based in Seattle and the spokesman for the academy, said tech toys cannot replace imaginative play, where children create rich narratives and interact with peers or parents.
“Are we creating media use as a default for play?” Dr. Shifrin asked. “When kids want to play, will they ask, ‘Where’s the screen?’ ”

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