Another book for my Wish I Had Time To Read This list. It's called The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World, by Dr. Susan Linn. Dr. Linn argues that "while play is crucial to human development and children are born with an innate capacity for make believe, the convergence of ubiquitous technology and unfettered commercialism actually prevents them from playing. In modern day America, nurturing creative play is not only countercultural—it threatens corporate profits."
I believe wholeheartedly in this argument. I am notoriously anti-beeping, blinking, whirring, buzzing, singing, talking, toy. These toys seem to play with themselves! Toy buses "recommended" by "respected" parent groups groan and sputter, open their own doors and drive away, all with the touch of literally one button. What on earth is a child supposed to do with that other than watch? I am convinced that these toys are not only annoying, but that they can do damage to a child's cognitive abilities by depriving children of their natural instinct to play in a focused and creative way.
The more we deprive our children of true imaginative play, the more they will struggle with many things. The widely admired educational psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, explored these ideas at length, in The Importance of Play. He stresses the cognitive, social and emotional learning children accomplish through seemingly simple, imaginative play. None of this can be accomplished with a noisy pile of plastic, whirring junk in the way.
So I say, get the junk out of the way and let the kids play.