We all know that if given the choice between playing a video game or playing with an old school toy like a doll or a set of jacks, a child will more often than not pick the video game. While this has an effect on our kids and their way of playing, it is also hitting the toy companies where it hurts: their profits.
The New Yorker wrote about the dip in toy sales, stating:
“In 2013, U.S. toy sales fell by about one per cent, according to the market-research firm NPD, helped along by a six-per-cent drop in sales of action figures. Youth electronics, a category that includes everything from kid-friendly tablets to robotic dogs, climbed eighteen per cent.
“It’s no surprise that kids are drawn to electronics; this has been the case since the advent of the radio. More recently, physical toys have ceded market share to video-game consoles like Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Nintendo’s Wii. Most video games can be enjoyed by a single player, a quality that creates opportunities for play not afforded by, say, a chess board. Video games also tend to tell a story, which is key to holding the attention of today’s children. Plenty of traditional toys have benefited from rich, or at least ubiquitous, storytelling—witness the success of Transformers, G.I. Joe, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so on. But, whereas these toys benefited from a supplemental story, a video game is the story.”
There was a time, like when I was a child, when we had to make up our OWN stories. But kids today have stories delivered to them in so many different formats and in digital ways, that something as static as a traditional toy has lost its allure. A child may pick up a doll and wonder, “What does this do?” or in a deeper way, “Why doesn’t it come with a story?”
I can’t imagine a world where children aren’t playing with toys. A world where all playthings need batteries, need to be plugged in, or have controllers. It’s not just that kids lose the time not being plugged in, but they lose so much in ways of creating their own stories with their imagination. And these stories, these creative moments, lead not just to artistic pursuits but inventions and cures.
Do you think that kids today rely too much on technology rather than toys?
Photo Source: Eric Holsinger/ Flickr