In Toys, written in 1957, Roland Barters illustrates his opinion of owe, “All the toys one commonly sees are essentially a microcosm of the adult world; they are all reduced copies of human objects” (25), in other words, these toys are merely smaller versions of everyday adult items meant to familiarize the child with adult routines and responsibilities, leaving the nature of the toy in all actuality cold, unimaginative and bland.
But currently Barters’ point is only half the argument, and could even be considered obsolete in an age when children are submersed in technology from infancy as more often young children are choosing electronic crosscurrent devices over traditional dolls, action figures, board games, and things of the like. In fact, a recent poll conducted in February of this year “found more than 60% of parents claiming that their child uses a touchstones and experts say their popularity is still rocketing” (Prig 1).
Taking into consideration Barters’ point of view, while it offers valuable perspective to reflect upon the pinning of adults from previous generations and their perception of children’s toys whose blinking lights and electronic, self-moving parts may have seemed scary and unfamiliar to them, Barters’ trepidation toward the next generation of toys in 1957 could never have accounted for today’s growing technology trend.
While it is alarming to think of the traditional toys and play we remember as children becoming an antiquity due to our fascination with technology, it is still difficult to deny the beneficial aspect of familiarizing children with technology at an appropriate age. With access allocated responsibly by parents, I believe some applications can help prepare kids and provide them with the valuable skills needed to adapt to the ever-changing world of genealogy, which they must be prepared for when eventually entering an educational (and later, a professional workplace) setting.
It’s also nice to be able to ask my 8 year old to program the settings to my phone when I get frustrated and can’t figure it out myself. At the same time, I’m concerned by this growing trend of replacing toys with technology for the specific reason that “[e]electronics are by nature pre-programmed and simply cannot provide the same open-ended play opportunities as traditional toys” (Stance 1). Yet an increasing number of parents and hillier are substituting them for traditional toys and play.
Whenever one of my children attempts to argue with me over how much time they should spend playing with their electronics of choice, they are doled out a solid helping of how back in my day we played outside instead of inside on computers. They are bored by the telling of how when I was their age, I built towers with actual blocks I could touch. I knocked them over with my hands and feet; whereas each one of my kids would prefer to chuck surly, electronic birds at computer-generated blocks, so they can cheer at the agitatedly-simulated crash on a hand-held screen.
Consider for a moment the popular electronic games Angry Birds or Mineshaft. While these games offer some element of creativity, an electronic building-block structure can never offer the physically tangible exercise of the child experimentally creating a structure block by block through trial and error, culminating in the ceremonious knocking down of the newly created structure to pieces on the floor, providing the always excitable crashing sound of which electronic games and touchstones applications Just cannot effectively duplicate.
And what if the child decides in the course of block building that it’s not that structure or any structure he or she wants to build but would rather invite a friend to play knights and pretend the blocks are bricks of gold they’re loading into a wagon to haul to the king? ” (Stance 2). Electronic games and touchstones applications just don’t offer the child that type of diversity, and instead perpetuate isolated, single-child play providing little to no person-to-person interaction for the child.
This is where we as parents have a responsibility to protect traditional play, strict our children’s use of electronics during playtime, and educate ourselves about the developmental growth offered only through traditional play. As stated by Michael Riyal, MD on his website, Parenting 101, “traditional games [and play] can help kids learn to acknowledge their emotions kids learn to deal with frustration after a loss, with excitement after a win, with anger after getting a “bad turn,” with anxiety when pride is on the line kids also learn how to communicate politely with other players” (1).
I believe these are essential interactions which directly contribute o a child’s social development which he or she cannot experience while using electronic games and touchstones applications. Just as Barters acknowledges “toys always mean something, and this something is always entirely socialized, constituted by the myths or techniques of modern adult life” (27), we have a responsibility as parents to heavily consider if this technological aspect of adult life is an appropriate replacement for traditional toys and play. More importantly we must ask ourselves, what will become of future generations if they never play with toys or each other?