Complaints regarding over-playing with toys from frustrated parents can be heard from windows of almost every house in this era; parents often express their concerns about how the toys distract their children from learning and developing. Is this always true, though? People of the 14th century would disagree.
Dolls made of wood, clay, wax are some of the earliest known toys; in fact, the oldest known toy is said to be 4000 years old doll. Dolls can be viewed as a conventional ‘educational toy’ as they teach children to care for living babies and children. Similarly, fighting toys like bows and arrows acted as substitutes to teach children how to hunt and fight without causing them fatal harm. Parents used to take help of toys to enable their children to develop various life skills like baby-rearing, battles, self-defense, protection from the dangers of the wilderness, managing household, etc. In ancient Greece, children played with dolls of wax, bows and arrows, and yo-yos. Toys and kid games started becoming more popular during the 18th century when people realized children needed to flourish and enjoy their childhood. Jig-saw puzzles, kites, spinning wheels, rocking horses were among the most enjoyed games during that era. Board games were also invented around that time. In the 19th century, educational toys and games such as books, cards, puzzles, board games, etc., were more emphasized. It was in the 20th century that the market for toys grew rapidly; more and more producers identified the monetary benefits of entering the toy market. The increase in the wages of working-class families allowed them to afford more and more toys. As the demand for toys surged, toy stores and toy shops were established. After the Second World War, societies became more affluent, and so the toys became more affordable. This was the era of Lego sets, Barbie sets for girls, and Action Man for boys.
Toys in the 21st century are seen in a whole new light. In kindergarten, kids are taught various life values and lessons with the help of toys such as Lego Minecraft, kitchen set, doctor set, and soft toys like stuffed animals, teddy bears, smart dolls, Jurassic world games, board games, and so much more. E-market for toys has also emerged to meet the global demand for toys and to make them even more easily accessible. Amazon toys have a huge consumer market as they make life easier by providing home deliveries. Many fast-food restaurants have started using toys to lure customers; MacDonald toys like funko pops are constantly fussed upon by the children. However, people now have begun shifting towards online games such as solitaire card games, online chess games, monopoly, ludo, Sudoku, online Barbie games, marvel games, and so on. Digital games such as lego star wars, lego technic have crushed the demand for toys. Children’s preferences have also started to shift towards less educational games such as online car race games, WWE fight games, robot fighting games, etc., that have been known to make them more impulsive and short-tempered in real life.
Covid-19 has also managed to claw its way into the toy market. With the spread of the virus, toymakers have started selling Barbie dolls with face marks to spread health awareness among children. Parents have shifted towards gifting their children medical kits, mask and glove-making kits, face shields, star-shaped soaps to teach them the importance of hygiene. However, apart from this, the lockdown has encouraged children into more video games which are heavy addition to the parents’ misery. Parents need to understand that toys play a significant role in their children’s growth and development if used correctly. Since the beginning of time, toys have served an educational purpose, and if parents become more aware and indulge their children in playing with the ‘right type’ of games and toys, then their children would flourish in life. Taking advantage of the lockdown, they should utilize the time playing educational games with their children to shift their attention from video games.