Three Reasons Why Kids Toys Should Not Be Gender Stereotyped
For a long time, toy shops were awash with distinct pink and blue sections, with a clear divide between the ‘girly’ toys such as the dolls and tea sets and the ‘boys’ toys like diggers and action figures.
Nowadays, this kind of ‘gendered’ marketing is less prevalent, but why is it so important that we don’t stereotype our children’s toys like this?
We’re going to take a look at three reasons why toy retailers should try to be more gender neutral.
It Takes Choice Away from Them
Ultimately, directing children towards one type of toy instead of another simply takes the decision making away from them.
Children don’t really get a lot of control over their own lives until they’re older, with grown-ups making a lot of their decisions for them.
Playtime is an important chance for kids to make their own decisions and let their imaginations run wild.
It’s an important part of their development where they start to decide what they do and don’t like, but removing the element of choice can really stunt this, and force children down one path or another.
It Reinforces Stereotypes
Children don’t develop ideas about what boys and girls should or shouldn’t do, or what kinds of jobs they should or shouldn’t have until much later in their lives, and a number of factors help to reinforce stereotypes throughout their childhood.
By the time children are at primary school, they’ve often developed very clear ideas of what jobs men and women can do, and these ideas can be difficult to change, and gendered toys definitely play into this.
Gendered toys can also encourage worrying stereotypes about beauty and body image, as well as implying that boys enjoy rough, even violent play.
Even if we don’t necessarily agree with these stereotypes. The way that products are marketed can still have a big impact on whether or not we buy them for our children.
You may not even realise that there are no science and construction toys in the ‘girl’s section and no cooking or arts and crafts based toys in the ‘boys’ section, but it all makes a difference.
In fact, this recent study featured in the Independent went as far as to say that most toy adverts are sexist, and claimed that gendered marketing reinforced “narrow and limiting” gender stereotypes.
Play is Important
It’s easy to forget what a big role playtime has on the development of children. According to Play Like Mum, imaginative play can help children to develop their motor skills, spatial awareness, problem solving, social skills and much more.
Boys and girls both need to be able to develop equally in these areas, and shouldn’t be restricted in what they learn because of the toys that they play with.
For example, many girls are encouraged away from the more technology and science based toys which boys get to play with, but these toys can be vital in developing skills such as problem solving.
This article from Family Lives goes into more detail about how play can help children’s development, and shows how crucial it is that they have access to the whole range of toys, not just ones which are deemed suitable by society!