Balancing Screen Time and Toys for Child Development: Finding the Right Mix

Date of Publishing:   

20 July, 2023


Occupational Therapy



Balancing Screen Time and Toys for Child Development: Finding the Right Mix

In today's digital era, toddlers and young children know how to use smartphones and other mobile devices before they even go to school. It is common to see them glued to the screens on their parents' phones or tablets, instead of playing with toys or going outside and engaging in physical activities. 

One of the main reasons for this trend to grow is the availability of age-appropriate and personalized content on smartphones or other digital devices. With the growing availability of educational apps, videos, and games that are designed especially that cater to children. 

Parents nowadays have too many responsibilities to bear, like work, chores and other parenting commitments. Hence, they allot a part of their responsibility to their smartphones, which keeps their child entertained and engaged. 

As a result, smartphones and other digital devices become an easier option for parents who want their child to be occupied if they are going to the grocery store, driving or traveling by train. The phones keep the child distracted while parents get their work done or be able to cover a considerable distance with no complaints from the child.

While there are many benefits to children using smartphones and other screen devices, there are also potential downsides. In fact, these concerns outweigh the benefits. Excessive screen time can lead to a decline in physical activity. Also, it can hinder a child's development in the areas of cognition, social, and emotional skills. Ultimately leading to the child getting addicted to the screen. 

It is important for parents to strike a balance between allowing their children to use smartphones and other screen devices and encouraging them to engage in other activities, such as playing with toys. In order to shift your child's focus towards toys, parents can limit the screen time, and engage in activities with their child, which involves a variety of toys that contribute towards the child's overall development.  

Benefits of toys that go unnoticed by the parents

While smartphones, tablets and other screen devices can provide children with highly educational apps and a great amount of entertainment. 

Toys offer a different developmental experience that screen devices do not give. Playing with toys helps children develop their tactile and fine motor skills and also encourages creativity and imagination. 

 Unlike digital games, toys allow children to engage in physical play and interact with their environment, which can promote physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, playing with toys can enhance social skills by promoting communication and collaboration with others. 

While smartphone games may have their benefits, it is important for children to have a balance of both digital and physical play experiences to promote healthy development.

Toys have the potential to teach children a lot as compared to gaming, and here are three reasons to justify it:

1. Toys create an opportunity for social interaction.

2. Some toys let children go out.

3. Combined with books, it makes reading enjoyable.


1) Toys create an opportunity for social interaction

When a child is solving a puzzle or playing a board game, it creates an opportunity for parents, siblings, or peers to interact as well as collaborate, making the child socialize.


2) Some toys let children go out

Toys like balls, flying discs, skipping ropes, etc. cannot be played indoors. Toys like these encourage children to go and play outside. This gives them the much-needed exercise and a breath of fresh air.


3) Combined with books, it makes reading enjoyable

Books for children are not only restricted to walls of text, there are pop-up books which let them know the relationship between cause-and-effect and make the topic vivid.

From a very young age, if the habit of reading is reinforced, it will stay all along with the child.


Now the question arises for the parents: how should we make the child gravitate towards toys?

First, discard mobile phones, tablets, and other gizmos out of the equation.

No doubt, technology offers a heavy amount of learning, the goal of this blog is not to discourage technology, in fact children should be taught how to use them because they are living in an era where technology is advancing rapidly and they should be in tune with it.

The only thing is, it should not be mixed with play-time because games on mobile phones or tablets immerse them to an extent. It reduces the chances of socialization and communication, the very skills we are trying to teach them. Sitting in one place for hours is unhealthy for them and it might result in obesity. Plus, there is a looming fear of the child getting addicted to the screen.


However, you should let them play games for a limited period and make sure it does not hamper their sleep, physical exercise, and other productive activities.

In conclusion, while smartphones and other digital devices provide a convenient and engaging source of entertainment for toddlers and young children, it is important for parents to be mindful of the potential downsides and encourage a healthy balance of screen time and other activities.

There are various developmental benefits that toys offer, like they develop the child's tactile & fine motor skills, build their creativity and imagination, create an opportunity for them to socialize with others, and a reason for them to play outside. Pop-up books serve as a great way for children to start reading at a young age. 

Are play skills missing in your child?

The ability to play is a crucial part of a child's development. Play helps children learn and develop important skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and social interaction. When a child has difficulty playing or lacks play skills, it can be developmental delay symptoms or other underlying issues. 

Similarly, children with language delays may have difficulty communicating and interacting with others during play. It is important for parents and caregivers to observe a child's play behavior and seek professional evaluation if they have concerns about their child's development. Early intervention can help children with developmental delays reach their full potential.

Best ABA therapist near me

Butterfly Learnings provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, which helps children who have challenging behaviors or developmental delays to learn functional communication skills and play skills. These skills help the child socialize. Through personalized treatment plans and evidence-based intervention, Butterfly Learnings aims to make a positive impact in the lives of children and their families by making them independent in the activities of daily living and improving their social skills.

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