An excessive use of technology can also affect children’s mental health

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QUIRON SALUDPaediatric specialists at Hospital Quirónsalud Murcia and Hospital Quirónsalud Torrevieja stress that presents should be fun and encourage child development

Christmas is a time of year that children love and on Christmas day, toys are the main attraction. However for parents it means having to decide what the best present is for their kids. The first thing to take into consideration, notes Doctor María Mínguez a paediatric specialist at Hospital Quirónsalud Torrevieja, is that “toys should be fun, and play a positive role in the development of the child’s physical and mental health”.
An excessive use of technology can affect children’s mental health. Nowadays videogames are one of the most popular gifts. They are a big part of some children’s lives and therefore help to develop important skills such as psychomotor abilities and reflexes. Nevertheless, the specialist adds “an uncontrolled use of these games can create addictions and some kids can lose a sense of what is real, intensifying the risk of social exclusion”.
Playing is a great way for all ages to have fun, it encourages connection and communication between adults, children and teenagers. Games and toys help to educate and build creativity as well as promoting a healthy lifestyle which leads to a reduction in child obesity. Devoting too much time to videogames or watching too much television produces sedentary habits that end in obesity and related illnesses (diabetes, high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, etc.). That’s why, according to Doctor Mínguez, “the best toy should become a source of good health and not an obstacle for the current and future well-being of the child”.

Always read the labels
Doctor Marta Granados, a specialist at Hospital Quirónsalud Murcia, points out that when choosing the right toy it’s necessary to pay attention to its functionality. A parent’s decision should take into account the age of the child, so that they know how to use the toy and so that it’s not a danger to them. “It’s convenient to avoid plastic because of its colour and sound, which limits a child’s imagination and stops them from creating their own games”, the specialist adds. This is why it’s so important to read the labels which give information on the materials and resistance of the toys.

 The amount of presents or buying the latest trend, are also two worries for mums and dads at Christmastime. Parents should use the present giving to educate their children and teach them to accept surprises. Doctor Granados adds, “Children will not be disappointed because they don’t have the latest toy or because they receive 5 presents instead of 10; they just need to realise that they have been given something special. It’s their parents who need to put a limit on the number of presents, including from other family members”.

Books should always be given, since they are just as fun as toys with their pictures, bright colours and textures; and they also promote the habit of reading from an early age. A child’s play is determined by their parent’s dedication.
However there is no use in buying the best present or the largest amount of gifts for a child if they are not going to be able to play with them with their parents. “Mums, dads, and teachers spend time with kids on a daily basis and they are responsible for reinforcing their learning and independence”, explains Doctor Granados.

10 tips for buying toys:
1. Look for toys that are age appropriate for your child.
2. Stay away from toys that could be dangerous: always read the labels.
3. Videogames are not advisable for children under 9 years old.
4. Mobile phones are not advisable for children under 12 years old.
5. Television and computers should not be allowed in bedrooms; these devices should be used with other family members and computers should always be controlled by parents.
6. Don’t give any toys, games or videogames if they are violent.
7. Don’t buy very expensive toys that you are going to be worried about the child breaking.
8. Don’t buy sophisticated toys that adults like but that are not as enjoyable for children, because this limits their imagination and encourages them to play passively.
9. Don’t give toys that encourage sexist roles in girls or boys: all children should be able to enjoy any type of toy, independent of their gender.
10. Always include a book as a present.

About Quirónsalud

Quirónsalud is the most important hospital group in Spain, and the third largest in Europe. It can be found in 13 autonomous communities in Spain, has state-of-the-art technology and offers over 6,500 beds in more than 100 healthcare centres, such as Fundación Jiménez Díaz, Hospital Universitario Quirónsalud Madrid, Hospital Universitario Dexeus, Ruber, Centro Médico Teknon, Hospital La Luz, Policlínica de Guipúzcoa, Hospital Quirónsalud Valencia, etc., as well as a huge team of highly qualified professionals of international prestige.

We promote teaching (seven of our centres are university hospitals) and medical and scientific research (we run the FJD [Spanish acronym, Jiménez Díaz Foundation] Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria [Healthcare Research Institute], the only private research centre licensed by the Secretaría de Estado de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación [Ministry for Research, Development and Innovation]).

Likewise, our healthcare service is organised in units and crosscutting networks that allow for the optimisation of accumulated experience at difference centres, and the clinical application of our research. Currently, Quirónsalud is developing many research projects across Spain, and many of its healthcare centres carry out cutting edge work in this field, as pioneers in different specialisations such as radiology, cardiology, endocrinology, gynaecology, neurology, oncology and sports medicine, among others. Hospital Quirónsalud Torrevieja. Tel: 96 692 5779.