Need a toy for a toddler? Try an old phone

Professor: Educational electronic toys don't live up to the hype. An old phone is just as good a way to introduce toddlers to technology.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor
Out shopping for that expensive Christmas gift for your young son or daughter? Well, put down that credit card. Your best gift this holiday season is your old cell phone, says Zee News.

You were probably wondering what to do with that old cell phone anyway. It's bad karma to throw it away and have its components toxins leach into the landfill. The thrift stores won't take it. And anyway, says Lydia Plowman, professor of education at the University of Stirling (UK), says those computerized toys advertised as educational are no better than traditional methods of teaching young children the basics.

"These toys are not particularly beneficial, although they are not particularly harmful either. There is no problem having them in the home. But in terms of literacy and numeracy they are certainly not more effective than more traditional methods of helping children to learn," she said.

Children love phones so they can have imaginary conversations when they call their friends. And as long as you still have the charger, they can play the mindless little games on the phones.

"Family members often change their phone every year and give their old one to their young child. That's a very good way of introducing them to technology in an authentic setting," said Plowman.

For the record, Professor Plowman said that she was not anti-technology, and did not want to be associated with movements such as the Alliance for Childhood, which claims electronic toys inhibit free play and are responsible for low attainment at school.

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