Toymakers woo parents looking to wean kids away from screens

Fri Feb 8, 2013 12:11am EST
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By Dhanya Skariachan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Sara Tsiropinas, 36, goes shopping for her three-year-old daughter Maya, the New York-based mom shuns the aisles dedicated to electronic toys.

The architectural designer is one of those parents who is very strict about the amount of time her child spends in front of anything with a screen, be it a videogame, iPad or TV.

Tsiropinas allows her daughter to watch TV for about 2 hours a week and prefers seeing Maya spend time with her wooden blocks and role-playing toys instead. She is not alone.

In 2012, a year toymakers bet big on "AppCessories," or playthings that come to life when hooked up to an iPad, iPhone and iPod, U.S. shoppers spent more dollars on building sets, arts & crafts items, dolls and preschool toys instead, NPD data showed.

That forced toymakers, big and small, to focus more on reviving traditional toys in their 2013 lineup and many of them will be on display at the American Toy Fair, which officially kicks off in New York on Sunday.

The revival of interest in classic toys is good news for companies such as Danish toymaker Lego, known for its colorful building blocks, and is already being welcomed by parents and doctors alike.

"This is great news. The best toys are the things like dolls and blocks, trucks and cars, pencil and paper and crayons," said Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "They fully engage a kid's imagination.

"What we want is for kids not to be sitting in front of screens all day and not to have their entertainment handed to them," said Ginsburg, who is also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.   Continued...