Study suggests giving kids too many toys stifles their creativity

December 6, 2017 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers at the University of Toledo in the U.S. has found that children are more creative when they have fewer toys to play with at one time. In their paper published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development, the group describes their observational study of toddlers at play, what they learned and offer some suggestions for parents.

Parents have long been subject to the opinions of others, some of which include judgments regarding the number of toys they should provide for their . Some suggest more toys show children they are more loved, while others argue more toys is overkill and a poor substitute for parental attention. In this new effort, the researchers have conducted a simple experiment meant to test creativity in toddlers playing with toys.

In the experiment, parents were asked to bring toddlers to a play area where the little ones were given either four toys or 16 toys to play alone with for 30 minutes. Each of the 36 toddlers who participated was observed by the researchers who were on the lookout for activities that could be counted as creative.

The researchers found that the toddlers playing with four toys engaged in more creative activities than did the toddlers who had 16 toys to choose from. They also found, unsurprisingly, that toddlers with fewer options tended to play with each of the toys available to them for a longer amount of time. Much of that additional time, the researchers noted, was taken up with finding news ways to play with them.

It should be noted that the are not suggesting that children should have fewer toys overall—instead, they are suggesting that children demonstrate more creativity if they only have the option of playing with just a few of them at a time. They believe would do well to keep most of a child's toys locked away while their plays with a small subset at any given time. An abundance of toys, they further note, may present a disruption factor, making it more difficult for the child to get the most out of any one toy—fewer nudge them towards resourcefulness.

Explore further: Consider eye safety when toy shopping

Related Stories

Consider eye safety when toy shopping

December 22, 2012
(HealthDay)—When you're holiday shopping for toys, remember to think about eye safety.

Food fight: Children's temperaments help predict dinnertime struggles

August 2, 2017
Most toddlers go through bouts of picky eating, but infants with more inhibited personalities are more likely to turn up their nose at new foods, according to researchers.

Sex toys 'safer' than kids' toys: Swedish study

January 23, 2017
Fewer sex toys contain dangerous chemicals than children's toys, a Swedish inspection authority said in a report published on Monday.

Research shows that the type of toys matters when it comes to how parents speak

September 16, 2015
As the traditional toys of the past are rapidly replaced by electronically "enhanced" toys, Penn State Brandywine Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Jennifer Zosh is asking the question: "What impact ...

Recommended for you

Antidepressants are more effective than placebo at treating acute depression in adults, concludes study

February 22, 2018
Meta-analysis of 522 trials includes the largest amount of unpublished data to date, and finds that antidepressants are more effective than placebo for short-term treatment of acute depression in adults.

Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all

February 21, 2018
Is the next generation better or worse off because of smartphones? The answer is complex and research shows it largely depends on their lives offline.

Researchers uncover novel mechanism behind schizophrenia

February 21, 2018
An international team of researchers led by a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine scientist has uncovered a novel mechanism in which a protein—neuregulin 3—controls how key neurotransmitters are released ...

Self-compassion may protect people from the harmful effects of perfectionism

February 21, 2018
Relating to oneself in a healthy way can help weaken the association between perfectionism and depression, according to a study published February 21, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Madeleine Ferrari from Australian ...

How people cope with difficult life events fuels development of wisdom, study finds

February 21, 2018
How a person responds to a difficult life event such as a death or divorce helps shape the development of their wisdom over time, a new study from Oregon State University suggests.

When it comes to our brains, there's no such thing as normal

February 20, 2018
There's nothing wrong with being a little weird. Because we think of psychological disorders on a continuum, we may worry when our own ways of thinking and behaving don't match up with our idealized notion of health. But ...

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

antialias_physorg
not rated yet Dec 06, 2017
I think this study is flawed in setting a unrealistically short time limit. Of course, toddlers will try out more new stuff if they only have 30 minutes and spend less on using each one creatively. The real test would be to provide them with 4 or 16 toys and have them play for a few weeks with them - and THEN check if they use toys creatively.

In any case: from my own experience during civil service years in a kindergarten: Kids are most creative with non-specific toys (sand-and-water combination being best, followed by stuff like LEGOs or simple building blocks). The number of toys doesn't seem to matter. It's all about how much added imagination must be put into a toy to make it something 'real' in the kid's mind.

A simple stick can become 100 things in a kid's hands. A toy dollhouse with 100 dolls only one thing.
SCVGoodToGo
not rated yet Dec 06, 2017
AA, a simple stick ALWAYS becomes a sword.
xX_DONALD_TRUMP_420_Xx
not rated yet Dec 06, 2017
Only toy parents need these days is a smartphone.
Probably not what you are looking for when it comes to generating creativity though.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Dec 07, 2017
"AA, a simple stick ALWAYS becomes a sword."

I dunno...when to me, as a kid, it mostly became the handlebar of a motorcycle.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.