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Leave the Digital Distractions at Home, Children Prefer Physical Toys on Trips

Although the iPad might seem like an all-inclusive entertainment system for keeping your kids busy on the four-hour flight to your holiday destination, new research by Professor Robert Winston has shown that kids preferred old-fashioned fun with old-fashioned physical toys as opposed to the digital distractions we give them today.

A social experiment carried out by the world-famous professor in collaboration with British Airways has found that contrary to popular belief, an iPad actually entertains children less than board games and other 'old-fashioned' entertainment.

This research has been published just as parents reveal that their biggest concern whilst travelling was keeping their children entertained from the endless queues and anti-social hours that going on holiday often comes with. 60% of parents admitted that they fail to keep their children distracted for more than just 30 minutes of the journey at any one time.

25 per cent of parents interviewed said that they were worried about their children disturbing other passengers - something which is typically British - as we are concerned about manners and what other people will think of young children's potentially anti-social behaviour in public. More than half of parents later admitted that they were nervous about anti-social travelling times disturbing their youngster's sleeping pattern.

British Airways conducted the social experiment in response to the survey which revealed parent's fears, and involved placing 30 children on a flight for two hours with a selection of toys. The children, with ages ranging from aged 2 to 10 years old, were given 90 minutes of playtime and were observed by Professor Winston, a scientist and TV personality who is also a specialist in child psychology.

The results of the study showed that it was actually the cheaper styles of toys which kept children entertained the children the longest and kept them occupied for the majority of the relatively long journey. Play-Doh and toy craze of the moment Loom Bands managed to keep young ones entertained the longest, with 80% of children and 70% of parents saying that they would definitely consider taking them on a future trip. Other timeless 'old-school' classics such as Lego and Top Trump cards also scored highly, keeping kids busy for an average of 37 minutes and 33 minutes respectively.

Professor Winston said: "œAlthough the temptation is for parents to play a film in the hope that their child falls asleep, activity-based toys, such as lego, sticker books and travel games are a great way to keep them engaged. Bringing out a different toy at regular intervals is guaranteed to keep them quiet for longer than just 90 minutes, as with an iPad."

Dr Vivian Hill, is an educational psychologist from the Institute of Education said: "œToys that spark the imagination and encourage creativity, rather than static toys and dolls, are proven to keep children occupied for sustained periods of time."

And Ian Ellis, a toys buyer at a major department store said, "œLoom bands are a hugely popular toy. We started selling them a couple of months ago and in the last few weeks we have really seen them take off. It has been such a big playground phenomenon with children wanting the newest colours and sets, we will be introducing more to our range as the trend continues."

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