The Toy Association Statement on Digital Play and Screen Time

The Toy Association and its members are proud of the important, life-shaping role that toys, games, and play have in the development and growth of young minds and bodies.

Experts across a wide range of disciplines agree that play has an undeniable influence on every aspect of a child’s development: fostering self-esteem, emotional, and social skills; honing motor skills, critical thinking, and creativity; laying the foundation for reading, writing, and mathematical reasoning; and more.

The Toy Association believes that children derive great benefit from a well-rounded day of play that can involve a combination of many types of toys, including electronic, app-enabled, and screen-based toys. We also believe that parents and caregivers are essential partners in their child’s play and learning and are ultimately responsible for selecting the playthings that are appropriate for the child’s age, interests, and abilities. Active adult involvement and engagement during playtime is also crucial for healthy development.

Today's children are digital natives. In many cases, electronic devices and apps for children are being used successfully to teach and reinforce literacy and vocabulary, mathematics, music, and other subjects. Studies show that educational apps can capture and sustain children’s attention, encourage repetition, and offer layered challenges to promote further mastery. Some can also be personalized to the specific needs and abilities of a child. Apps that are well-designed can have a positive impact on a child’s learning, especially when played with an adult.

Accordingly, The Toy Association supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommendation that parents make a media use plan for their families that considers not only the quantity, but the quality and type of media used. Though we have seen no studies that support the AAP recommendation to discourage all screen media exposure for children under the age of 18 months, The Toy Association supports the notion that media use plans should be age-appropriate.

In all its various forms, play can promote active minds and healthy lifestyles, but parents and families should take an active role in selecting the toys and digital playthings that they are comfortable having in their home and that reflect their beliefs and values.

This statement was updated by The Toy Association in September 2020.