Humans are social animals, which means we need social connections to support our overall development. Children are wired to learn through observations of others, and their learning is reinforced when they talk about it and share it with others. Ultimately connection with others is imperative for our wellbeing so it is important that children have plenty of opportunities to connect with caregivers, and when developmentally appropriate, their peers. This is done best when it happens in real life. We can connect with each other through screens but this is no substitute for the benefits we get both cognitively and emotionally through real life connections. Screens can provide information; people provide lessons about relationships, empathy and emotions. Social interactions also provide real-time, muti-sensory (eyes, ears, touch) information about our behaviour and communication with others, which is imperative for good all around healthy development of social skills. Too much time spent on screens in childhood can detrimentally impact behaviour and emotional regulation, language development (including understanding body language which is hugely important in understanding others) and a child’s ability to focus and pay attention.
Using the ball should not be a solo activity. Playing with the ball creates an opportunity to interact with others and learn good social skills such as teamwork, sharing, losing graciously and experiencing shared joy through play. Due to the way the human brain is designed we need real-world experiences to learn these skills effectively and this cannot be replicated effectively through online play. Playing with the ball with others also makes the ball more fun. Your child is more likely to use the ball effectively when used as a way to connect with others.