As the schools begin to break up for the summer holidays and the great family getaway parents are wondering how to entertain their children on those long flights.
A recent survey by British Airways found this really is a big concern for parents with 60 per cent of revealing they were unable to keep their child occupied for longer than 30 minutes.
So what is the answer and which are the top toys to take on a plane?
The airline recently conducted a social experiment, 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 (for the airline but maybe not for most parents who see their children playing with the boxes on Christmas Day!) revealed that it was actually the cheapest toys that kept the children occupied for the longest. 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. Both toys, costing from just 74 pence and £1.99 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. Timeless classics such as Lego and Top Trump cards also scored highly with this age group; keeping them entertained for an average of 37 and 33 minutes respectively. But you don’t want to be loosing that special Lego piece under the seats during a flight!
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.”
In the poll of 2,000 people a quarter of those surveyed said they worried about their children disturbing other passengers, while more than half were nervous about disrupting their youngster’s sleeping pattern.
But what should you put your toys in when you go on a flight?
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.”
Dr Vivian Hill shares her top tips for a stress free flight with children:
The PlaneTalking Tip is basically – ‘ remember what cabin you are flying in’.
This test looks like the children got to travel in the best seats. Most economy seating doesn’t offer a great deal of space, even for a child. The fold down table isn’t massive and you don’t want to be chasing bits of Lego across the cabin floor.
Something cheap like Loom Bands means it isn’t the end of the world if you loose any and you don’t need loads of room. And you could make a bracelet in the airline colours for a crew member! Don’t forget to quote us airlines on that idea!!
What are your top tips when travelling with children? Tweet us @Plane_Talking