From the ages of a newborn to the age of 13 (as much as we hate to admit that we played with toys until we were in sixth grade) toys are a main component of a kid’s life. Toys have accomplished something so little from teaching children their ABC’s to something so drastic such as developing a child’s imagination or even potty training a three-year-old. Additionally, ” they [children] develop their cognitive capabilities, social and emotional skills and physical capabilities” (Rommes, Bos, and Geerdink 186). They are the center of a child’s world because toys develop a skills of sharing between friends, help develop creativity and intelligence, and inform children of the future of adult concerns and roles. Toys can even be important to adults. Furthermore, while spending time with friends people reminisce upon the classic toys of their youth like Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shop, and Magnetics. In other words, toys can be a big topic of discussion at any age.
It may be hard to believe if you have never witnessed it for yourself, but toys and especially toy commercials portray a negative aspect to children. How can something of such great importance have such a negative side to it, you may ask.
If you have ever stayed on the couch instead of a bathroom break or to grab a quick snack to avoid the long terrible commercials, you have most definitely witnessed the negative side to toy commercials. These toy commercials are influencing “children’s imagination, play, fantasy beliefs, and aspired social roles” (Kahlenberg and Hein 830). Commercials have such a large affect on children because of the amount of television they watch daily. Studies show that “children spend more time watching television than in any other activity except sleep” (Kahlenberg and Hein 831).
Toy commercials are gender specific with the advertising of their toy. Toy commercials for girls focus on advertising that involves household-duties, beauty, fashion and maternal duties. Toy commercials may strictly advertise baby dolls to young girls because “it is evidence for maternal feelings and expressions of the wish for a child” (Karniol, Stuemler-Cohen, and Lahav-Gur 897). This can be noticeable in a few of the many commercials like these:
On the other hand, other toy commercials for boys toys are sexist as well. Boys are known to be in advertisements involving destruction, adventure, “dark colors, competition, rapid activity, aggression, noise and aggression” (Kahlenberg and Hein 835). This can be viewed in the following commercials:
The problem with these commercials is that toy companies are limiting their sales to a specific gender. What if a child of the opposite gender wanted to purchase the toy? The answer is simple; children will most likely not want the toy because they feel as though it is not acceptable. Many children feel discouraged to play with something they truly feel passionate about. For example, boys want to put down their action figures and pick up the cooking utensils, but feel dismayed to do so. Because certain advertisements only have girls or boys in their advertisements, it seems as though only the gender featured in the advertisement can play with that toy.
Recently an incident occurred when a seven-year-old girl was upset because a Marvel alarm clock said “Fun gifts for boys” (Northrup 1). The young girl argued that “Anyone can like superheroes” (Northrup 1). Her mother, being just as upset, tweeted a picture and, to her surprise, it went viral within seconds.
Children’s Wooden Toys Toy Play Kitchens Dollhouses Kids Furniture For Boys & Girls. “Girls Pink Retro Play Kitchen And Fridge Role Play Toys KidKraft 53260.” Youtube. N.p., 5 April. 2014. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
Cole, Karen (karlou). “My superhero loving 7yo daughter not impressed when she spotted this sign in @Tesco today @LetToysBeToys.” 22 Nov. 2014, 3:07 p.m. Tweet.
Kahlenberg, Susan G., and Michelle M. Hein. “Progression on Nickelodeon? Gender- Role Stereotypes in Toy Commercials.” Sex Roles 62. 11/12 (2010): 830-847. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web 24 Nov. 2014
Karniol, Rachel, Tamara Stuemler-Cohen, and Yael Lahav-Gur. “Who Likes Bratz? The Impact of Girl’s Age and Gender Role Orientation on Preferences for Barbie Versus Bratz.” Psychology & Marketing 29. 11 (2012): 897-906. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 24 Nov. 2014
Northrup, Laura. “Seven-Year-Old Girl Questions ‘Fun Gifts for Boys’ Sign at Tesco.” Consmerist. N.p., 24 Nov. 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Rommes, Els, Maartje Bos, and Josine Oude Geerdink. “Design and Use of Gender Specific and Gender Stereotypical Toys.” International Journal of Gender, Science & Technology 3.1 (2011): 185. Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
Seven Alphabet Toys for Playfully Teaching Kids to Read. N.p., 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.
ToyLand SpotCom. “Toy Commercial 2014 – Baby Alive – My Baby All Gone – More Than 30 Phrases.” Youtube. N.p., 18 Sept. 2014. Web 24 Nov. 2014.
ToyLand SpotCom. “Toy Commercial 2014 – Nerf Demolisher 2 In 1 Blaster – Dessert Double – It’s Nerf Or Nothing.” Youtube. N.p., 7 Aug. 2014. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
ToyLand SpotCom. “Toy Commercial 2014 – StretchKins Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Master Your Ninja Moves.” Youtube. N.p., 11 Jul. 2014. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.