The Pros and Cons of Gender-specific Toys

October 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm

gendertoysThe concept of gender is much more fluid in the modern times. While the biological designation of birth gender may not be easily changed, the societal effect of gender orientation is something that has been discussed over and over again. Who can really say what categorizes as a girl’s task and a boy’s task? Society has impacted upon us these constructs – but more people are challenging these roles as we know it.

A male human being at birth may be distinguished by his anatomy, but it would be presumptuous to assume that someone else, aside from the person himself, should know his gender before he does. However, as there is need to put these data into hospital files, we still resort to the same two boxed categories: M and F.

Now that the fight for equality has become more prevalent, even children’s toys have become involved. Marketing strategies for genderless toys have been widely spread. Even some department stores combine the shelves for toys, so that children will be able to see all the options before choosing whichever toy they like. Reports of raising children as gender neutral have surfaced. Is it time to do away with gender specific toys?

 

Pros

Inclination

Study shows that children naturally incline toward gender specific products. Babies who haven’t been influenced by anyone yet tend to pick toys associated with their own gender. Gender-specific toys are useful for children who know what they like.

 

Identity

Young children relate to kids of the same gender as discussed in this article which tackles the biochemical theory of gender identity. This transcends to the toys they play with. Some kids will be more comfortable playing with gender-specific toys because they will feel more at home with these.

 

Cons

Limits

It has been argued that limiting toy choices for a child also limits his perspective on life. Since a boy is not trained to play house, he does not practice nurturing and domestic skills. Girls who focus on makeup toy sets may not realize that other objective fields can be fun as well.

Each toy teaches children different things –much like the American doll you bought with your American Girl coupon you found here can teach your kids about history and following life goals, no matter if they’re male or female.

 

Stereotyping

Youngsters develop their gender identities before middle childhood. These are normally based on how they are raised. Adult models show them what it’s like to be a boy or a girl, and some adults even specifically mention that to them. This results to stereotyping of gender roles, such that there are life options limited only to men and some only to women.

Research by the National Association for the Education of Young Children has shown that toys associated with boys are associated with violence and danger, while girls’ toys just like the dolls on this list are connected with physical attractiveness and domestic skills. They concluded that toys that are considered gender-neutral are more conducive for the optimal development of the child’s cognitive skills, among others. Strongly gender-typed toys may foster negative gender attributes.

 

Ultimately, selecting toys for our children is a matter of interfering with their inherent wants. Whether we consciously remove gender-specific toys from their playthings, or we unconsciously let our children play with these toys, parents create an effect that we can’t really be sure about. Only after the kid has grown up will he be able to tell if the experience affected him or not. But then again, maybe he will not be able to tell – after all, he won’t know what he missed.