High-street and online retailers are getting ready for the Christmas festive period through offering promotions on many toys for children at Christmas. However, campaigners are voicing their concerns over such practises and are implying that children simply get bought too many presents at Christmas and in turn is putting pressure on adults to buy or spend more than what’s necessary.
Why do Children have so many toys?
Psychologist and author of ‘Love Bombing’, a book on parenting, Oliver James, has suggested that children simply do not “need” a vast collection of toys and stated that “Most children need a transition object; their first teddy bear that they take everywhere. But everything else is a socially-generated want.”
The statement that Oliver James made is an interesting one and one in which shouldn’t be ignored. There are too many ‘needs’ and ‘must haves’ in today’s society and unfortunately, the more that these toys are cleverly marketed towards children by retailers etc. then the desire to have these top notch toys will continue to increase. This doesn’t bode well for when they make the transition between childhood and adulthood; greed in terms of ‘must have’ it now attitude has significant consequences on how they turn out to be like.
In the UK, we tend to create that want that children now have and recent spending figures on toys backs this up; the Toy Retailers’ Association report found that the British consumers spend a whopping £3bn every year on toys. This figure is simply astonishing and even though inflation does increase, wages don’t increase with the level of inflation. So where are parents finding the money to spend such a large amount on their child’s ‘needs’?
On the other hand, the figure of £3billion does not illustrate the amount spent on the more traditional/educational gifts for kids, and includes even the most expensive toys bought for children such as, Play Stations, Xbox, mobile phones, Tablets and so on. Figures can be manipulated easily, depending on how researchers want report findings to look and be portrayed by the public. There is an argument for example that, these types of ‘toys’ are not toys as such and even though they’re bought for children, does this qualify them for being a toy? And, visa versa.
UK’s toy of the year
Every year, the toy of the year is anno8nced in the UK and in 2012; this was the very popular Furby. Furbies were a hit back in the early 2000’s and have made an astonishing come back. Children just love them and even adults are purchasing them for themselves or as gifts for their peers.
The four previous winners were as follows in ascending order:
- 2008: Ben 10 Action Figures
- 2009: Go Go Hamsters
- 2010: Jet Pack Buzz Lightyear
- 2011: LeapPad Explorer
Even though there is a favorite toy every year, decided upon by the number of sales, traditional toys e.g. dolls, building blocks etc have managed to consistently retain a certain level of popularity among kids; even a couple of generations on, these are still as popular as ever. Perhaps because children associate their doll etc like they do when they get their first teddy bear and enables them to stimulate their imagination.
The most important thing when it comes to children and the gifts that they have is that they are able to play and play as children, which would indicate that so called technological toys are simply not toys and children should be playing with their doll or toy car.
Annabel, the author of this article has worked in the toy industry for many years and has witnessed mass changes in relation to the types of presents bought for children.