Toy industry leaders and prominent experts in child care underlined that playtime with toys is a comprehensive learning process for children at the second edition of Spielwarenmesse® Dialogue, hosted in Mumbai. The discussion set the stage for the fifth edition of Kids India, scheduled to take place from 20-22 September, 2017, that will bring together the most innovative, best-in-class and widest variety of toys and games. The panel discussion established consensus that toys are one of the most integral aids to a child’s overall development that help shape aptitude and personality.
The dialogue recognized the need for a concerted effort by various stakeholders within the eco system including toy manufacturers, retailers educators, care-givers and the government; to raise awareness on how toys help develop not only the physical aspect of growth, but is also extremely critical in shaping cognitive and social skills during a child’s formative years. Moderated by Vivek Jhangiani from The All India Toy Manufacturers’ Association (TAITMA); the esteemed panel comprised of Prof. Rajani Konantambigi, Associate Professor at Centre for Human Ecology, Tata Institute of Social Sciences; Shweta Chari Founder, Program Director for Toybank and Katharina Janotta, Managing Director, Spielwarenmesse India Pvt. Ltd.
As the organizer of the world’s largest fair for the toy industry Spielwarenmesse eG is hosting a million products and 100,000 novelties every year at their fair in Germany as well as internationally, such as in India, Russia and Turkey.
Katharina Janotta, Managing Director, Spielwarenmesse India Pvt. Ltd. said, “We see ourselves as an information platform, multiplier for the toy industry and a promoter of the value of play concept across the globe. Through the Spielwarenmesse Dialogue, we have provided a platform for industry stalwarts to come together and raise awareness about the role of toys in safeguarding and enhancing the learning process of children. With the advent of technology we are seeing a shift in perceptions and attitudes towards traditional toys. However, the industry itself is evolving and we are seeing a wave of innovation in the design and manufacture of toys. It is critical, therefore, to educate people about the indisputable role that toys play in childhood development. To emphasize the importance of value of play, Spielwarenmesse has created an initiative of awareness on the topic.”
Vivek Jhangiani, Executive director of Pleasantime Products (manufacturer of toys under the brand name of United Toys) and representing The All India Toy Manufacturers’ Association (TAITMA), and the moderator of the dialogue said, “Play is more than fun and games. Children that play, develop critical skills that help them in their everyday lives. Play helps in their emotional wellbeing, improve their imagination and develop cognitive skills. We in India and around the world, as parents have to learn to fit play into the everyday life of the modern child. Not playing enough can lead to negative thoughts and emotional disorders. Toys and games allow kids to play, imagine, create, construct and strategize, allowing them skill sets to grow into responsible adults!”
Addressing the need for increased conversations and concerted action, Professor Rajani Konantambigi, Associate Professor at Centre for Human Ecology, Tata Institute of Social Sciences said, “Play is the way children engage with world. Adults view it as “play” and therefore as trivial. Play is a serious cognitive and learning activity for the child. All adults need to facilitate play”.
The impact on the development of a child’s character and education is treasured by the UN in the child’s right to play. Article 31 demands that the state parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.
Shweta Chari Founder, Program Director for Toybank, said, “At Toybank we fully propagate the Right to Play for all children. I entirely believe that Play is for the mind what nutritious food is for the general well-being of an individual. Our organisation stands on the ethos of what Frederick Douglass had once said, – it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men (and women). This, we believe can be entirely done through Play at childhood level. The Power of Play cannot be underestimated at any given point. We hope & believe that the 47,000 children we work with at Toybank on a daily basis through Play will grow up into stronger, well-rounded and most importantly, better human beings.”
Play has tremendous value across the various developmental stages in a child life. Various studies have shown that children who receive affection and attention in early childhood – those who are played with, read to, talked to – are not only happier children but also grow to have better cognitive capacity.
Ishmeet Singh, Country Manager – India, Mattel Inc. said, “Mattel is more than a toy company and we seek to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children through play. We understand that for every child, toys and playtime are critical aspects that contribute to their overall growth and learning. We ensure that our toys are designed to aid the development of physical, social and cognitive skills through the various stages of childhood. Our design is deeply rooted in research – one that recognizes the true value that the toy brings to a child’s life. And, we continuously strive to raise awareness among consumers about the intrinsic role toys and games play in the holistic development of a child.”
Several researches have shown that when children engage in play they imagine, create, pretend, remember, think of alternatives, form strategies, negotiate and solve problems.