February 12, 2019
Findings from a recent Parents’ Choice Foundation/Michael Cohen Group survey highlight the similarities in parental and caregiver concerns about their children — and their recognition of the positive role of toys and play in children’s development and learning.
Parents’ Choice Foundation and the Michael Cohen Group (MCG) have released the findings from an online quantitative survey of 332 primary caregivers (parents, grandparents and teachers) of children (ages 1-10) conducted in December 2018. Focused on toys and learning, the survey findings reveal a striking consensus regarding parental concerns about their children, the role of toys, and toy purchasing behaviors. Key findings include the following.
Shared beliefs, concerns, and purchase behaviors across all demographic variables
A major finding is that the vast majority of parents – regardless of age, locale, or household income – share similar concerns about their children, have similar expectations and goals for the toys they buy, and report similar shopping and purchase behaviors.
Shared emphasis on safety, fun, and learning
The top three criteria that parents and caregivers use when selecting toys for their children are “toys that are safe” (90%), “toys that are fun” (80%), and toys that “help children learn” (72%).
Widespread belief that toys contribute to learning
The vast majority of parents (over 80%) believe that toys facilitate their child’s learning of important skills and knowledge. Seventy percent (70%) classify the toys that they purchased during the past year as “educational” or “learning” toys. Overall, parents report the highest interest in toys that facilitate the acquisition of problem-solving skills (72%) and engender positive social-emotional development (69%).
A growing concern about children’s social and emotional development
Two-thirds of parents (65%) report that the development of “social and emotional skills” represents their greatest concern regarding their children’s learning and development, followed by “problem-solving skills (51%), “school-related language and early reading” (35%), and “school-related STEM” (30%). These findings support other recent MCG research findings highlighting parent and educator concerns regarding young children’s social skills and social-emotional development.
Widespread interest in third-party labeling
The majority of parents (71%) report that they would welcome a “third-party labeling system that displays the learning value of toys.” Two-thirds of parents (63%) report a preference for third-party labeling displayed directly on the packaging. This finding supports the recent activities and efforts of Parents’ Choice Foundation to meet this need.
“For the past five years, we’ve been developing and refining the PlayAbility Scale ™, a scientifically based measurement tool – akin to nutrition labeling – for toys and games. We’re delighted that the survey data confirm parents’ interest in using the PlayAbility Scale to help with toy and game purchasing decisions.”Claire Green, Parents’ Choice Foundation president
The survey findings and trends
“These findings highlight several important trends. The first is that parents – no matter where they live or where they fall on the income scale – are more like each other than not — they share similar concerns. The second is parents’ universal appreciation of the role of toys in their children’s development and learning. The third provides confirmation for the increasing concern about young children’s social-emotional development. The fourth is parents’ desire for third-party assessment and package labeling of toys’ play and learning value.”Michael Cohen, PhD, President, MCG
Note on the sample for the survey: The survey was conducted with 332 U.S. primary caregivers (including parents and grandparents), representing toy purchasers for 453 children. The sample, which was recruited from Parents’ Choice Foundation’s subscribers and followers represented the full range of socioeconomic status; locale (urban, suburban and rural); children’s ages from 0 to 10; familial configurations (single-parent and dual-parent households); number of children per household (1-5); and preschool and non-preschool attendance.
About Parents’ Choice Foundation
Established in 1978 as a 501c3, Parents’ Choice Foundation is the nation’s oldest nonprofit guide to quality children’s media and toys. Best known for the Parents’ Choice Awards® program, the Parents’ Choice Award® Seals are the Foundation’s internationally recognized and respected icons of quality. The PlayAbility Scale ™ is a scientifically based tool that measures the skill building properties of toys and games.
About the Michael Cohen Group, LLC (MCG)
The Michael Cohen Group, LLC (MCG) is an applied research, evaluation and consulting firm headquartered in NYC. MCG has conducted research in over fifty countries with children, parents, and educators on a range of topics, including: toys & play; education & learning; media: entertainment; and health & safety. MCG clients include The U.S. Department of Education; YouTube; LEGO; The New York State Department of Education; Nickelodeon; and Hasbro.
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