Palm holding tiny puzzle pieces from a micropuzzle

This travel-friendly 150-piece micropuzzle fits perfectly on an airplane tray table

Why giving your child unlimited screen time while on the road is not in either of your best interests.

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA, June 4, 2024 / — “To Screen or Not Screen?” That is the question that every parent struggles with when planning which playthings should entertain their child during long hours in trains, planes, or automobiles. While plopping a tablet in your child’s lap for that 5 hour flight to visit relatives seems like a no brainer. Science says, neither you nor your child benefits from it. Parents, who are hoping for some much needed quite time while their little one stares at a screen, will have to decide if the trade off of quite-time for an epic-sized meltdown while trying to get off of the plane is worth it. When screen time ends, dopamine levels decrease, potentially leading to withdrawal symptoms in your child.

While studies have shown that screen time reduces attention span, playing with tangible toys actually increases attention span while giving your child hours of practice developing other developmental skills such as fine motor and problem-solving skills. From compact puzzles and interactive games to travel friendly arts and crafts kits, this list of curated travel toys promises hours of entertainment and engagement for children of all ages.

Portable Games and Puzzles: Challenge young minds with compact and captivating puzzles that promote cognitive development and problem-solving skills. In addition, solving puzzles such as brainteasers helps to develop spatial awareness and logical thinking. Understanding how pieces fit together in space can enhance a child’s reasoning skills in math and science. While playing games promote family bonding, they can also encourage teamwork, communication, and cooperation depending on the family game that is being played. This shared activity can create lasting memories and strengthen family connections during travel. A study on the “Effects of Excessive Screen Time on Child Development” that was published in Cureus examined the effects of screen time on many developmental areas. According to this study, there are negative effects of screen media use on a number of cognitive areas such as executive functioning, sensorimotor development, and academic outcomes. Media multitasking was found to have a negative impact on executive functioning in teenagers, notably on working memory, inhibition, and the capacity to switch between tasks. In other words, too much time spent in front of a screen and multitasking with other media has been related to worse executive functioning and academic performance. As screen time reduces the amount and quality of interactions between children and their caregivers, it can also have an impact on language development.

Arts and Crafts Kits: Travel-friendly craft kits promote creativity and self expression and inspire imaginative play during long hours of travel. Engaging in arts and crafts activities requires children to use their hands and fingers to manipulate various materials and tools. This helps improve fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and dexterity, which are essential for tasks like writing, typing, and buttoning clothes.

Sensory Play Toys: Sensory toys and fidgets are designed to provide comfort and stimulation for all children especially those with sensory sensitivities, helping them feel calm and relaxed during travel. In addition, sensory play toys come in a variety of textures, shapes, and sizes, inviting children to explore and discover through touch and manipulation. This sensory exploration fosters curiosity, creativity, and sensory awareness, enriching children’s sensory experiences. Engaging with squishy toys can stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. This chemical release can provide a sense of relief and happiness, making squishy toys an enjoyable and soothing activity especially during the high stress of travel. Fidget toys offer a physical outlet for nervous energy for children who are strapped into seats for hours at a time. This can be particularly beneficial for kids who are naturally inclined to be in constant motion or have high levels of anxiety. The physical act of fidgeting can help release built-up energy and tension.

Compact, durable, and mess free, travel toys are the perfect companions for any journey. Encouraging children to engage with screen-free toys while traveling can make the journey more enjoyable and beneficial, supporting their development in an interactive and enriching way.

Annamarie Von Firley
Adventuretown Toy Emporium
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