Child play is one of the major ways children learn about the world around them, which is employed in the educational system. The use of toys and games for academic purposes has been properly researched. Of course, toy marketers develop thousands of new items each year to address the demand and entice young consumers, or rather their parents to buy more. This sphere is also discussed in the media, and the ethical aspect of the matter has gained considerable attention.
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Apart from that, child play has become an instrument for those who are eager to shape the ideological stance of the society (Seriff 160). Some may argue that toys are mere reflections of the trends that exist in society. However, children have been bombarded with numerous messages and ideas via toys and games throughout several decades. The effects of this influence have been manifold and mainly led to the development of certain trends or maintenance of certain ideologies.
One of the topics that have gained momentum in recent years has been the role of toys and games in the development of gender stereotypes. It has been emphasized that toys inflict patriarchal values on children who grow up to become adults with certain gender-related biases (Ulrich and Ezan 1047). Children often have quite clear views regarding toys that are appropriate for certain genders. Moreover, children are aware of the way catalogs are developed and tend to look for gender-specific pages when looking for the toys and games they may like.
At the same time, it turns out that gender stereotypes are stronger at some stages of children’s development, which can be used to minimize the influence of some preconceptions on children (Ulrich and Ezan 1060). Although people often agree that they support the ideas of equality, the toys their children play with teaching other things. Apart from the development of some cultural aspects and trends, toys and games have often become an instrument to build ideologies.
The Creation of Ideologies
Child play was also a platform for broadcasting some ideological ideas and creating a society where people shared particular views and values. Totalitarian regimes tend to make toys and games a potent weapon as they raise children within the scope of the ideology they try to inflict. For instance, children in Nazi Germany had a very specific Lego toy (Seriff 161). Lego Concentration Camp was played by many children, which can be explained by the ideological paradigm of that period. The ideologists of Nazi Germany tried to build a society where people would hate the Jews and would know what exactly to do with their enemies.
Of course, the Nazis were not the only group that employed child play (Seriff 154). Americans and Soviet societies were characterized by the specific use of toys at the time of the Cold War. Children did not simply play with toys, but they absorbed the attitude towards some groups or nations and developed behavioral patterns based on the ideologists that reigned at that period. However, the use of child play has not always been associated with negative outcomes.
Possible Positive Impact
Marketers and toy producers can have a positive effect on the development of society. One of the ways positive trends can be created is the use of toys and games as an enticer to live a healthier life. It is found that toys can encourage children to have healthier diets or, at least, eat smaller portions of fast food (Reimann and Lane 8). When choosing between a larger meal size and a toy, children tend to choose the latter, which can be used to help people control their children’s weight more effectively. Furthermore, fast-food chains and toys developers can help the society drops some of the habits that reduce their life and lead to the development of serious disorders. Of course, the mentioned toy marketers and fast-food producers should become responsible corporate citizens who do not focus on their profit but pay attention to the good for all.
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To sum up, it is necessary to note that child play has many implications since children do not simply learn about the world around them. Young members of society are raised in terms of particular ideologies addressing all aspects of human life. Toys and games have become a kind of simulation platform that develops specific worldviews. By and large, gender stereotypes, as well as beliefs about others, are often created through child play.
Ideologists, marketers and manufacturers have employed this channel to affect the youngest members of society to reach their goals. However, it is time for all stakeholders to stop and think about the long-term effects of the use of child play. It is essential to help children develop universal values that will not be narrowed down to a specific political party’s needs or some company’s market share. Children should play games and toys, have fun, and become creative adults who have wide horizons and can contribute to the development of humanity.
Reimann, Martin, and Kristen Lane. “Can a Toy Encourage Lower Calorie Meal Bundle Selection in Children? A Field Experiment on the Reinforcing Effects of Toys on Food Choice.” PLOS ONE, vol. 12, no. 1, 2017, pp. 1-12. Web.
Seriff, Suzanne. “Holocaust War Games: Playing with Genocide.” Toys and Communication, edited by Luísa Magalhães and Jeffrey Goldstein, Springer, 2017, pp. 153-170.
Ulrich, Isabelle, and Pascale Ezan. “Boys and Dolls; Girls and Cars.” International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, vol. 44, no. 10, 2016, pp. 1047-1063.