A common phrase this time of year is “Christmas is for the kids.” Opening presents while sitting in front of a Christmas tree is one of childhood's best memories for many of us.


Most of the gifts children receive involve playtime. A recent study found that playtime may be more important than many of us might assume. “The LEGO Play Well Report surveyed nearly 13,000 parents and children in nine countries to understand the state of play today and encourage discussion around its ongoing importance.”



First of all is the correlation between family playtime and happiness. “The report reveals a strong link between the hours spent playing together and the happiness of families, with nine out of 10 families (88 percent) who play for five hours or more a week claiming to be happy.” 


Knowing this, it's a bit disconcerting that 30 percent of families spend less than five hours playing together every week and 10 percent play for less than two hours. Four out of five children (81 percent) wish their parents would play with them more. 


It's no wonder, then, that: “Children themselves are pioneering a new type of ‘Fluid Play’ where they naturally engage in play that seamlessly blends real world, imaginary and digital experiences.” Given this, it's interesting to note that “...most children (81 percent) still prefer playing with their parents than alone, and three in four (72 percent) prefer to play with friends in the same room rather than online.”


It's encouraging that when playing and learning come together, parents and children seem to be on the same page. “Almost all parents (95 percent) believe play is essential for children’s well-being and a vital educational tool. Four in five (82 percent) think that children who play more will be more successful in future studies and work. More importantly, four in five (83 percent) of children agree they learn better when play is involved.”


Playtime also leads to a better family life. “Parents say play is good for their own well-being (91 percent) and happiness (72 percent) and that it even helps them feel more relaxed (86 percent) and connected to their children (64 percent). Almost all children surveyed say play makes them feel happy (93 percent) and helps them relax after a long day at school (87 percent).” 


These findings are just in time as families gather for the holidays. What better time to log some really good playtime? To that end, the Money and Career Cheat Sheet enlisted some help from Good Housekeeping and Today to come up with a list of “Hot toys that will likely sell out before Christmas.” The good news is that many of these are in the “get-down-on-the-floor-and-play-with-your-kids” category. 


The “Hot List” includes: L.O.L. Surprise! Bigger Surprise!, Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Wall LEGO building kit, Scruff-a-luvs, Avengers Hero Inventor kit, Hatchimals, Barbie Dreamhouse, Melissa & Doug Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter, PAW Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck, Osmo Genius Kit for iPad, and the LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox. Pictures and descriptions of these are at: https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/these-are-the-hottest-toys-that-will-sell-out-before-christmas-2018.html/


At the same time, it's important for parents to choose the right toys for their children. That's because: “One child is treated in a U.S. emergency room every three minutes for a toy-related injury, according to the Center for Injury and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.”


Last week: “Massachusetts-based World Against Toys Causing Harm, or W.A.T.C.H., unveiled its 46th annual list of the 10 worst toys for 2018.” (https://www.apnews.com/c82cfc55b83f48ffb4bae6491309316d and https://toysafety.org/toy-safety/2018-10-worst-toy-list/)


The W.A.T.C.H. List includes: Nickelodeon Nella Princess Knight Pillow Pets Sleeptime Lites, Nerf Vortex VTX Praxis Blaster, Marvel Black Panther Slash Claw, Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel Superstar Blade, Cabbage Patch Kids Dance Time Doll, Zoo Jamz Xylophone, Nici Wonderland Doll: Miniclara The Ballerina, Stomp Rocket Ultra Rocket, Cutting Fruit, and the Chien Á Promener Pull Along Dog. A video related to this report is at: https://youtu.be/rMxPW-NRtyk


While you are in play mode, don't forget that I have once again created a special Holidays Page with all sorts of activities, games, jokes, crafts, and other family fare at: https://www.neffzone.com/holidays/


A feature on the page is an interactive map showing the most popular Christmas candies in each state. Did you know that 76 billion candy canes and 150 million chocolate Santas are produced every year for the holiday season? Good to know if you get hungry from all that playing. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews

Source: CandyStore.com