It is Christmas season and the time of the year when we buy gifts for our children. But it might be high time to revisit your child’s toy inventory. A shopkeeper at the Frizbee toy store in Oberon Mall says that action figures of the World Wrestling series, Transformers, disturbing creatures like Parallax from Green Lantern, Bane and The Lizard from the films, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, respectively, are just a few of the most popular toys today.
There is a growing concern that these toys are affecting children and their behaviour.
According to an ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) survey conducted earlier this year under its Social Development Foundation, over 75 per cent of metropolitan children in the 5-17 age group are constantly exposed to violent video games.
One reason is that 65 per cent of the children have their own computers at home and spend 14 to 16 hours a week playing these games.
Over the past couple of decades, you can play virtual games on modules like Xbox and PlayStation. However, these toys quickly become a waste of money because the child’s loyalty for a hero is fickle, and each version becomes outdated very soon.
The amount of violence that these games, along with techno-toys like Nerf guns, represent, has a significant impact on a child’s perception of what is right and wrong. Children are now learning at an early age about disrespect, retaliation and aggression through physical and verbal abuse.
Instead of allowing the child to play for the sake of fun, such stressful video games result in an increased risk of developing behavioural problems like frustration, obsession, and addiction. Children may display fits of anger by throwing the controls down because it will not perform the way they want it to. They may also scream at anyone who disrupts their concentration. This kind of behaviour often leads to children experiencing difficulty in relating to other people, and they start isolating themselves. If, at all, playmates are involved, they may fight with each other over the game.
On the other hand, research also shows an escalating trend of toys making children passive or brain-dead. Thanks to the instant gratification of present-day toys, when a child looks at a stuffed animal now, his or her first reaction is to ask ‘What does it do?’, instead of playing with it.
Today’s toys or gadgets are doing all the playing for them, eliminating the enjoyment of play and killing imagination with it. These toys cause kids to be less creative, thus hindering their intellectual growth and shortening their attention spans.
Experts believe that the increasing number of couch potatoes has been spawned from a generation of ‘crib potatoes’. They maintain that with excessive use of television, computers, and now techno-toys, the youth tend to grow up with a lack of motivation to live and cherish life.
So what is the way out for parents? Don’t allow children to demand every toy that they fancy. Keep an eye on your children’s television viewing habits, and be in charge of the toy purchases in your family. Always consider the impact of a toy before purchasing it. Make sure that the item has a dual purpose: of educating, as well as entertaining the child.
There are hundreds of creative, fun and peaceful toys that will expand your child’s imagination while providing endless fun. For instance, try giving your children art and craft products or ‘Do It Yourself’ kits that will engage all of their senses.
You can choose affordable toys like the simple yo-yo, wherein a child can learn about objects in motion, and subsequently apply it to subjects like physics.
Toy companies, like Tinker Toys and Lego, offer stimulating miniature construction sets, which help children to learn how to create structures from their imagination, by using patience and diligence. This, in turn, increases their self-confidence and outlook on life.
Games like Pictionary can involve the entire family. Playing together and talking will help create strong family bonds between the parents and children.
Make your beloved children’s early years an experience they will treasure for a lifetime.