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Parents’ Choice Foundation/Michael Cohen Group Survey

Parents' Choice Foundation & MCG Survey Shows Similarities in How Parents Select and Choose Toys

Findings from a recent Parents’ Choice Foundation/Michael Cohen Group survey highlight the similarities in parental and caregiver concerns about their children – and their recognition of the positive role of toys and play in their children’s’ development and learning.

By Parents' Choice

Timonium, MD — February 12, 2019 – Parents’ Choice Foundation and the Michael Cohen Group (MCG) have released the findings from an online quantitative survey of 332 primary caregivers (parents, grandparents and teachers) of children (ages 1-10) conducted in December 2018. Focused on toys and learning, the survey findings reveal a striking consensus regarding parental concerns about their children, the role of toys, and toy purchasing behaviors. Key findings include the following.

Shared beliefs, concerns, and purchase behaviors across all demographic variables


A major finding is that the vast majority of parents – regardless of age, locale, or household income – share similar concerns about their children, have similar expectations and goals for the toys they buy, and report similar shopping and purchase behaviors.

Shared emphasis on safety, fun, and learning

The top three criteria that parents and caregivers use when selecting toys for their children are “toys that are safe” (90%), “toys that are fun” (80%), and toys that “help children learn” (72%).

Widespread belief that toys contribute to learning 
The vast majority of parents (over 80%) believe that toys facilitate their child’s learning of important skills and knowledge. Seventy percent (70%) classify the toys that they purchased during the past year as “educational” or “learning” toys. Overall, parents report the highest interest in toys that facilitate the acquisition of problem-solving skills (72%) and engender positive social-emotional development (69%).

A growing concern about children’s social and emotional development
Two-thirds of parents (65%) report that the development of “social and emotional skills” represents their greatest concern regarding their children’s learning and development, followed by “problem-solving skills (51%), “school-related language and early reading” (35%), and “school-related STEM” (30%). These findings support other recent MCG research findings highlighting parent and educator concerns regarding young children’s social skills and social-emotional development.

Widespread interest in third-party labeling
The majority of parents (71%) report that they would welcome a “third-party labeling system that displays the learning value of toys.” Two-thirds of parents (63%) report a preference for third-party labeling displayed directly on the packaging. This finding supports the recent activities and efforts of Parents’ Choice Foundation to meet this need.

“For the past five years, we’ve been developing and refining the PlayAbility Scale ™, a scientifically based measurement tool – akin to nutrition labeling – for toys and games. We’re delighted that the survey data confirm parents’ interest in using the PlayAbility Scale to help with toy and game purchasing decisions.”

Claire Green, Parents’ Choice Foundation president

“These findings highlight several important trends. The first is that parents – no matter where they live or where they fall on the income scale – are more like each other than not — they share similar concerns. The second is parents’ universal appreciation of the role of toys in their children’s development and learning. The third provides confirmation for the increasing concern about young children’s social-emotional development. The fourth is parents’ desire for third-party assessment and package labeling of toys’ play and learning value.”

Michael Cohen, PhD, President, MCG

Note on the sample for the survey: The survey was conducted with 332 U.S. primary caregivers (including parents and grandparents), representing toy purchasers for 453 children. The sample, which was recruited from Parents’ Choice Foundation’s subscribers and followers represented the full range of socioeconomic status; locale (urban, suburban and rural); children’s ages from 0 to 10; familial configurations (single-parent and dual-parent households); number of children per household (1-5); and preschool and non-preschool attendance.

About Parents’ Choice Foundation
Established in 1978 as a 501c3, Parents’ Choice Foundation is the nation’s oldest nonprofit guide to quality children’s media and toys. Best known for the Parents’ Choice Awards® program, the Parents’ Choice Award® Seals are the Foundation’s internationally recognized and respected icons of quality. The PlayAbility Scale ™ is a scientifically based tool that measures the skill building properties of toys and games.

About the Michael Cohen Group, LLC (MCG) 
The Michael Cohen Group, LLC (MCG) is an applied research, evaluation and consulting firm headquartered in NYC. MCG has conducted research in over fifty countries with children, parents, and educators on a range of topics, including: toys & play; education & learning; media: entertainment; and health & safety. MCG clients include The U.S. Department of Education; YouTube; LEGO; The New York State Department of Education; Nickelodeon; and Hasbro.

For additional information please contact:

Claire Green
President, Parents’ Choice Foundation
www.parents-choice.org
claire@parents-choice.org
+1 410-308-3858

Michael Cohen, PhD
President, Michael Cohen Group LLC
www.mcgrc.com
mcohen@mcgrc.com
+1 212-431-2252

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Our Team

Meet the Team

The Parents’ Choice core team is a smart, talented, and fun-loving group that leads the experts and family testers with whom we are so fortunate to work. Whether at our desks, playing on the floor, walking the aisles of Toy Fair, attending conferences or reading up on industry trends, it would be rare to find a more dedicated and hard-working bunch.

Claire 2

Claire Green

PRESIDENT

In addition to helming the Foundation’s work, Claire is a member of the National Toy Hall of Fame® and Toy of the Year (TOTY) nomination committees. She lives with her husband Tom in the Maryland woods where they’re constantly searching for plants the deer won’t eat.

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Krista Kane

Content Director

Before joining Parents’ Choice in 2016, Krista spent 10+ years researching, testing, and playing with all manner of toys, games and gadgets at FamilyFun magazine. Although she spends her days with the latest and greatest, the classics are what she loves best.

 

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Karena Rush

Principal Investigator

Currently a psychology professor at Millersville University, Karena previously served on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and as a psychologist at Sheppard Pratt Hospital where she worked with children with special needs. 

 

Jennifer Wells

Jennifer Wells

Editor, Digital Toys

Jennifer has been developing kids’ digital products for 20+ years for organizations from Highlights Magazine to LEGO. As a child she and her group of imaginary friends went everywhere together, playing with refrigerator boxes-turned-spacecraft and an Apple IIc. But Fisher-Price’s Little People were always closest to her heart.

Contributing Editors

Our contributing editors help guide us through the ever-changing landscape of children’s media and toys. They evaluate and review with the eyes, ears, and experience of skilled professionals. Only a parent or once-in-a-lifetime teacher can provide the perspectives they share.

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Lahri Bond

Father, writer, music historian, designer and illustrator, and a professor of art at Holyoke Community College, Lahri lives in Massachusetts with his wife, two cats and way too many books.

Gina

Gina Catanzarite

Gina is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, and media consultant. Her work includes national documentaries for PBS. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and twin sons.

Emily Crawford

Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, three cats, and thousands of LEGOs.     

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Lynne Heffley

Lynne spent more than 20 years writing about the arts and children’s arts and entertainment for the Los Angeles Times. When not on assignment, Lynne is apt to be found strumming one of her seven ukuleles. 

Naomi Lesley

Naomi Lesley taught young adult literature for six years. After earning her Ph.D. from George Washington University, she’s now teaching at Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts.

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Kemie Nix

Kemie, Children’s Literature for Children, Inc. founder, began teaching literature to children four decades ago. Since its inception, CLC has placed more than two million books in hospitals and schools around the globe.

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Ann Oldenburg

Assistant Director of Georgetown University’s journalism program, Ann began her career at The Washington Post and went on to spend more than two decades with USA Today, where she covered pop culture. 

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Don Oldenburg

Director of publications and editor for the National Italian American Foundation, Don spent 22 years as a feature writer for the Washington Post. The coauthor of two books, his legendary muse continues to be his first baseball 

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David Shirley

David’s recent titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park. His biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the NYPL’s Best Books for Teens.

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Coy Bowles is a singer, guitarist and organist for the Zac Brown Band, as well as his own Atlanta-based group The Fellowship. On his first full album for children, Bowles and saxophonist/fellow songwriter Carlos Sosa combine their superior songwriting and musicianship and open Music for Tiny Humans with the South African influenced rhythms of “Coming Home.” Emotions are explored in the ragtime rendered “I’ve Got Feelings,” and solidarity is celebrated in “All in This Together,” which is marinated in a Memphis soul stew of horns and organ. The rocking strains of “The Sickness Song” makes feeling unwell a lot more tolerable, and little paleontologists will love to boogie to the syncopated sounds of “The Dinosaur Dance.” Grumpiness is transformed into fun with the reggae tinged “The Sun Shines Every Day,” astronomy is investigated in the rocking “Outer Space,” and the album’s title is reprised in the optimistic and encouraging anthem “Brand New Day.” Echoes of The Beatles can even be heard in the marching rhythms of the imagination celebrating “Behind The Little Red Door Song,” and the album closes with the beautiful, cello enveloped lullaby “Lie Down.” Bowles’ songs are witty, intelligent and well crafted, and he possesses a powerful, clear voice, capable of everything from a sensitive purr to a good rock anthem shout; mostly he sounds like your friendly, fun, and loving uncle, whose arrival signifies the start of good times.

 

Lahri Bond ©2020 Parents’ Choice

Lahri Bond is a father, a writer, music historian and an art professor in Western Massachusetts. His published books include Spinning Tales Weaving Hope (with the Stories For World Change Network) for New Society Press and People of the Earth (coauthored with Ellen Evert Hopman) for Destiny Books.

Where Lily Isn’t

Opening with all the things that the young girl’s little brown dog Lily used to do, the reader learns that Lily isn’t there anymore. When the child wakes up in the morning, she looks at the rug beside her bed. No Lily. Going through the day’s activities, she notices all the ways and all the places “where Lily isn’t.”

Told in the first person, this very compassionate book is not maudlin. It simply acknowledges the ways children miss a beloved animal. It doesn’t try to comfort or resolve the grief by producing a new animal, it simply stands beside the protagonist while she misses her friend. This is a gentle, masterful presentation of a child’s sad experience – ending with Lily always being inside her heart. This is wonderful read-aloud story as all small listeners will feel emotionally understood.

 

Kemie Nix ©2019 Parents’ Choice

Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children’s Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents’ Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

The King of Bees

Kemie Nix ©2018 Parents’ Choice

Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children’s Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents’ Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

Do You Like Broccoli Ice Cream?

Gina Catanzarite ©2018 Parents’ Choice

Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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Lynne Heffley ©2018 Parents’ Choice

A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper’s first weekly children’s arts and entertainment beat.

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Kathy Smith ©2018 Parents’ Choice

Kathy Smith has been leading preschool classes through playful learning for more than 25 years. Her tales of “Who is messier, ‘Miss Kathy’ or the children?” is a comedy act in the making. Family friendly, of course.

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Gina Catanzarite ©2018 Parents’ Choice

Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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Parents’ Choice ©2018 Parents’ Choice

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Gina Catanzarite ©2018 Parents’ Choice

Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.