Santa, Leave the iPad at the North Pole

Melanie Hempe

Santa, leave the iPad at the North Pole!

6 reasons why your child needs real toys instead of another screen this Christmas.


Real toys are necessary building blocks of childhood. Not screens. 

Here are 6 reasons why your child wants a real toy instead of another screen this Christmas:

1.      Screens reduce conversation and eye contact. Even when you are co-viewing the screen with your child, you are not directly interacting with him. Real toys promote play with others in ways screens can’t, supporting critical brain skills such as speech and language development, empathy, and even seemingly unrelated skills such as reading and writing. 

2.    Screens stifle creativity.  Your child wants to develop his creative potential; he craves the type of discovery that real play brings. Screens don’t allow his creative juices to flow because he is following the rules of the screen game designer. That's borrowing someone else’s creativity, not exercising his own.

3.      Screens are isolating and don’t build family attachment.  Deep down, children want to spend time with their parents; even teenagers do, believe it or not. They also long for their parents to want to spend time with them! Sharing a board game, a pick-up football game in the front yard or a family bike ride is more exciting to your child than handing him another screen and telling him to go play on his own.

4.      Screens restrict movement. Since our brains develop from back to front, the cerebellum (movement center) needs lots of varied movement to develop properly. Movement also discharges pent-up energy. This means that he will be happier with toys that allow him to move a lot.

5.      Screens are addictive. Interacting with screens stimulates neurochemicals that your child can become dependent on. Screen addiction is a serious problem that is linked to numerous mental, physical, and social health issues.  See child psychiatrist Dr. Victoria Dunckley's book, Reset Your Child's Brain: A Four-Week Plan To End Meltdowns, Raise Grades and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen Time if you suspect that your child may be in trouble. 

6.      Screens disrupt sleep and trigger stress chemicals. This can make it hard for your child to regulate his emotions, focus in school, and handle life's frustrations. In fact, this response can wind up mimicking serious mood, behavioral, or learning issues, making it that much more difficult to help children struggling with such issues. 


Don’t be impressed with your child's digital brilliance as he swipes through the virtual world at record speed on his screens.  Children are not ready for a screen-saturated world just yet. Instead, give them the gift of a real childhood complete with real toys and real time with you. Go to for a list of real toys this year!