Haptic toys by natureHaptic toys by nature

6th sense

Have you also got the feeling that it is better for children to play with ‘real’ toys than with electronic devices? Nowadays many parents’ 6th sense tells that it is better to physically play with toys than to spend hours playing with electronic toys like tablets and smartphones. But apparently their 6th sense is now also scientifically validated. 

 

A segment versus the whole human

Research has shown that stronger brain connections are made when children use all their senses when playing a game. Haptonomy is a holistic approach, which recognizes humans as whole beings, gifted with reason and a wealth of emotive and sensitive powers. The haptonomic focus is body directed, on the affective and tactile sensations as important information source. The haptonomic study has been always postulating what neurosciences are now just beginning to prove: sensations, emotions and feelings are of capital importance for the development of the psychological life and intellectual capacities1. Consequently are toys, which let you use all your senses while playing, called haptonomic. 

 

Superficial brain connections

A child in development needs to encounter the appropriate stimuli in his/her environment to train and prepare the brain and body for later functioning in the society and workplace. When children play with electronic toys like tablets and smartphones, only superficial brain connections are made since no tactile feedback by touch is received while playing. Hence, due to this passive contact no haptic or touch perception is established and what is learned is forgotten easily. Even worse; the renowned German memory researcher Manfred Spitzer2 warns that too much computer use leads to 'digital dementia’, memory deterioration, voice and learning disabilities, attention disorders, stress and depression.

 

Strong brain connections 

However, when people play with the haptonomic Happy Cubes, stronger and solid brain connections are made because multiple senses are used during active exploration. Haptic perception is established through the ‘touch and feel’ play dimension. Likewise the information gathered from different senses support and reinforce each other, resulting in deeper learning and body awareness. Thus, the more different senses are addressed, the stronger the brain synapses and the better memories are established. More specific this means the following for the Happy Cube:

Think, act and feel happy

1) when you accept the Happy Cube puzzle challenge you first THINK about how you are going to make the cube;

2) during the puzzling you ACT with your hands and actively explore the surface and the shape of the puzzle pieces;

3) while playing you get visual feedback from your eyes, tactile feedback from your hands and fingers, and emotional feedback from your heart;

4) finally when you create the perfect cube you FEEL HAPPY. 

Since multiple senses are used, what is learned is deeper grounded in brain and body, and will therefore be remembered better and longer.

 

Fully haptic toys

Anyway, Happy Cube as haptonomic and haptic game is a full-body active exploration experience. It’s the art of cube!

 

References

1. Dolto-Tolitch, C. (1997). Pre- and postnatal haptonomic communication, affective security and development. The International journal of prenatal and perinatal psychology and medicine, 9(2), 165-180.

2. Spitzer, M. (2012). Digitale dementie: hoe wij ons verstand kapotmaken. Antwerpen: Atlas Contact. 

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