July 23, 2014 -- The thing that keeps many parents off planes is a fear of flying -- the fear of entertaining their children in a small enclosed space for hours on end, that is.
And what if the flight is delayed?
Most parents grab the iPad and hope for the best. But a new study from British Airways suggests children might be occupied longer, and stay happier, with far simpler toys. Plus a little adult interaction.
The airline placed children -- aged two to 10 -- on a two-hour flight and were observed by scientist and TV personality Robert Winston and a team of educational psychologists.
"You can't expect any child to just be involved in solitary play whether it's an iPhone, iPad for the duration of the flight," said Dr. Vivian Hill, an educational psychologist. "If you mix up the activities and recognize that sometimes you will need to interact with the young person to make it more interactive and more interesting for the young person, you will prolong their period of engagement."
One little boy said he loved the top toy on the list because "they can keep you occupied for hours." Another said he wanted to stay on the plane forever.
“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," Winston said. "Bringing out a different toy at regular intervals is guaranteed to keep them quiet for longer than 90 minutes.”
British Airways top ten toys to take on a plane:
1) Loom Bands2) Playdoh3) Lego4) Top Trumps5) Uno6) Usborne Activity Cards7) Magnetic travel game 8) Aquadoodle! 9) Finger puppets 10) Sticker book