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James Shock
Mr. Stewart
English 12B
4 May 2014

Toys and Children

Dolls, Lego's, Toy trucks: some of the go to toys for most children on a rainy day. Most
people have very fond memories of toys whether its dressing up Barbie's or building
monuments with blocks. Toys are as old as time and can even date back to ancient Egypt. It is
known that toys are tools of learning. In old times toy weapons were given to boys to train them
as future soldiers and dolls were given to girls so they can learn what is expected of them when
they become women. Today it is known that children receive more toys than ever whether it is
on birthdaysor holidays. As a wholemankinds technology has evolved much over time. That
being said toys too have evolved. So what do toys teach children today? Can toys really be tools
of learning? Can they affect childrens attitude or mental health? Based upon extensive research
it can be concluded that toys can have psychological or emotional effects on childrens behavior
and development.

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First it is important to know a little about toys and their significance. Toys have been
around throughout history dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. Theyre thousands of
different toys ranging from the simplistic Hula Hoop to the extremely complex Rubic Cube.
Toys were always used as a tool of teaching. In many ancient cultures the first thing taught to
theyoung was the use of weapons, and the simple stick or club was the prototype of later military
weapons such as swords or guns. Toys even represent religion. Even today during the Mexican
festival of the Day of the Dead, sugar is formed into beautiful skulls, tombs, and angles; many of
these forms are essentially religious symbols, but in the hands of children they become toys that
are played with and finally eaten. Another religion where toys are used is also Christianity;
using Easter eggs to celebrate the resurrection of the Christian Son of God Jesus Christ. Toys
arent just simple objects they represent culture, religion, and life of that period.
To begin, toys can have negative psychological or emotional affects a girls behavior and
development. One toy in particular that has had a huge affect on girls over time is the world
famous Barbie doll. The Barbie doll is a perfectly shaped doll with long beautiful blond hair. She
is known for living in extravagant mansions, driving top of the line hot pink vehicles, and doing
tons of shopping! Young girls are in love with these toys carrying them everywhere they go,
dressing them up, and designing their hair. Barbie is a young girls idol. Can a doll such as
Barbie have a negative effect on a young girl? Most experts will say yes. The Barbie doll sets a
nearly unreachable standard! It is known that some women have even gone through plastic
surgery just to reach Barbies image! No one in his or her right state of mind would want do go
through this. In the article Dyes and Dolls, Multicultural Barbie and the Merchandising
ofDifference the author states, Attempting to live up to the Barbie Ideal can foster eating and
shopping disorders in teenage girls- nightmares instead of dreams(Ducille 10). The Barbie isnt
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necessarily a bad toy and doesnt represent evil. Childrens minds are simplistic, a lot of them
simply copy what they see in a monkey see monkey do sort of way. It is important for parents
to explain to their children that the Barbie doll lives in a fantasy world; that her life style is not
realistic and she is simply a toy. This is important because its possible that what children learn
from Barbie can cause self harm to them and in the end it would be the parents fault. If Barbie
is a monster, she is our monster, our idol (Ducille 11).
As well as girls, toys can have negative psychological or emotional effects on aboys
behavior and development as well. Boys will be boys is common saying explaining how young
boys play. Most boys play cops and robbers, play out battles with their action figures, or even
have a full on war with their Nerf guns. All of these activities listed are aggressive and violent
and these can have a negative effect on a young boy. These toys are capable of teaching children
that violence is okay and it doesnt help that videogames and television are full of violence. In
the article Violent Toys and Their Effect on Children, by Albert Wisco, Retired MD and
parenting expert Dr. Marilyn Heins states, Toys that promote hurting and violence can only
have a negative effect(Wisco 1). It is impossibleto ban children from knowing about weapons,
violence, and war. Its everywhere around us; its even in the fairytale children might read. Just
like the Barbie, these toys arent evil. In fact for most children holding a weapon doesnt make
them a potential killer. Its most likely that with a toy weapon they feel more like knights slaying
dragons or any characters fighting for justice. What parents should do to prevent these toys from
having negative effects is take a balanced approach. Banning toys can potentially back fire as
most children desire the forbidden. It should be taught that real weapons are dangerous and
violence is not always the answer. As children grow they begin realizing that in real life
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violence doesnt work, that there is a difference between imagination and reality, and that in real
life one does not come back to life after a gun fight(Wisco 3).
One may notice that negative effects from toys in both boys and girls can be prevented
from the same thing: their parents. As parents it is their job to help put their children on the right
path and to teach them right from wrong. That being said it is the parent who decides how a toy
affects a child. The parent being the biggest role model for their children, they can teach children
about toys and morals through direct play! In the article Contributions of Play and Toys to
Child Development by Jeffery Goldstein Ph.D. he states, Parents directly affect the behavior of
their young children when they engage the children in play. When playing with parents, infants
and toddlers behavior is more complex, more conventional, of longer duration, and more
symbolic that when playing with peers, siblings, or alone when parents play with infants and
young children, the complexity of childrens behavior increases substantially, both in the length
of social interactions, and in the developmental level of childrens social behavior(Goldstein
So far it has shown that toys can have negative effects on children, but toys actually
benefit childrens behavior and development more than hurt it. Toys are still tools for learning
and play a huge part in a childs development. Kids can learn more from certain toys, normally
toys that are more complex forces the child to think more! In the science experiment The
effects of stereotyped Toys and Gender on Play Assessment in Children Aged 18-47 Months
conducted from University of Nebraska and Creighton University it is stated, objects such as
kitchen sets, phones, and dolls elititcated an extremely high level of play complexity for boys
and girls(Chenery 103). Toys can also teach children strategies and open their mind to a new
way of thinking! Forcing them to create different scenarios and exploding their imagination! In
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an interview between the NAEYC and professor Jeffery Trawick-Smith, Smith stated, Toys
impact childrens behavior in different ways. Some toys have a powerful influence on childrens
thinking and interaction with peers and creative expression (Smith).
Not only do toys enhance intelligence they can also help create better social skills! After
all one simply couldnt play doctor without a patient! This is where kids can learn to use the
morals taught to them by their parents. Through imaginative play, children learn some of the
roles and pro social behaviors of society, like co-operation, negotiation, taking turns, and playing
by the rules (Wisco 2). Toys help teach kids how to share and be able to connect to other
children. Being able to communicate is one of the things toys teach children and communication
can help children make friends and be happy. Playful children are happier, better adjusted, more
co-operative, and more popular with their peers than those who play less. Children play longer
when a wide variety of toys is available. Playful children are more physically active, creative,
humorous, imaginative, emotionally expressive, curious and communicative (Heins 9).
Toys can also help a child with his or her problems. Children are very emotional; they
can easily be upset or happy. What toys do is help children handle their emotions and control
them which definitely is an important thing to do and will help their future. Fantasy play allows
children to work through conflict and painful feelings. In play, children learn how and when to
express or control their emotions, even play fighting requires a good deal of self-control and
restraint, serving as practice for exercising restraint in more serious contexts(Goldstein 12).
Believe it or not toys have the power to even influence what a child does for a career
when he or she grows up! Children building things out of Legos becoming engineers or kids
playing with toy guns one day joining the army! But can toys really impact a Childs career
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choice? Becky Francis, professor of education at Roehamption University says yes. In the article
DoChildrensToys Influence Their Career Choices Francis states, Different types of toys give
different messages about whats appropriate for boys and girls to do, and have different
educational content- both elements are important and might have a bearing on schooling and
career choices later (Barford 1). Stocking blocks one day, designing buildings another day.
Its crazy how such a small thing can affect a child so much; however, toys are
educational and intelligence is the most powerful thing in the world. Toys can teach children so
many things; some good and some bad. One may wonder what the future holds. Toys are
becoming so more advanced every day. Will a child still be able to learn as much from toys as
they do now? Toys are becoming more and more electronic and require less imagination. Only
time will tell if toys will still have the same affect. But for the sake of today toys can be used as
tools for powerful learning and can affect a childs psychological or emotional behavior and
development. Parental guidance determines whether it is affected in a positive or negative
way.Its very important for the world to know this so we can help improve the mental stability of
our youth. The youth is the future of the world so it is the up most importance that we do all we
are able to, to the best of our ability, to help the future generation be a happy and intelligent one.
And for this to happen it all comes down to simple toys played with as a child.

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Ducille, Ann. Dyes and Dolls: Multicultural Barbie and the Merchandising of Difference Duke
University Press 1994. Spring 1994. Print
Cherney. Isabella. The effect of Stereotyped Toys and Gender on Play Assessment in Children
Age 18-47 Months Taylor and Francis Ltd. Vol 23 No. 1, 2003 Print
Wisco, Albert. Violent Toys and Their Effect on Children TVOParents. Web. July 16, 2008.
What the Research Says: Impact of Specific Toys on Play. NAEYC web 2007
Barford, Vanessa. Do Childrens Toys Influence Their Career Choices BBC NewsMagazine.
Web. 26 January 2014
Goldstein, Jeffery. Contributions of play and toys to child development. Web.
December 2013

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