A social play activity in young children term paper led by Professor Robert Winston found that old-fashioned fun is all you need to keep children happy in-flight – contrary to popular belief. The research comes as parents revealed that their biggest concern when flying was keeping their children entertained, with 60 per cent admitting they fail to keep kids distracted for more than 30 minutes.
A quarter of parents surveyed said they worried about their children disturbing other passengers, while more than half were nervous about disrupting their youngster’s sleeping pattern. British Airways conducted the social experiment in response to the survey, by placing 30 youngsters on a flight for two hours with a selection of toys. The children, aged two to 10, were given 90 minutes playtime and observed by scientist and TV personality Robert Winston and a team of educational psychologists. The surprising findings revealed that it was actually the cheapest toys that kept the children occupied for the longest. THE TOP 10 TOYS TO TAKE ON A PLANE 1.
Play-Doh and toy-of-the-moment Loom Bands topped the list with 80 per cent of children and 70 per cent of parents saying they would take these on a flight in the future. 99 respectively, kept more than half of the children occupied for longer than 40 minutes. The most popular toy among two to five year olds was Play-Doh, while Loom Bands were a firm favourite with the five to 10 year olds. Professor Winston, said: ‘Although 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 also a great way to keep them engaged. Bringing out a different toy at regular intervals is guaranteed to keep them quiet for longer than 90 minutes.
Bring out different toys at regular intervals. Think of games with extended play. Think about games that you don’t need to carry. If it’s an evening or night flight take pyjamas.
Getting children ready for bed will help avoid disrupting their sleep pattern. Dr Vivian Hill, educational psychologist from the Institute of Education, said: ‘Toys that spark the imagination and encourage creativity, rather than static toys like soft toys and dolls, are proven to keep children occupied for sustained periods. Ian Ellis, toys buyer at John Lewis, said: ‘Loom bands have been hugely popular. We started selling them at John Lewis 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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