Here is my problem with this new “toy” or at least some of my problems with it: another business is targeting 4-6 year old kids to become full-fledged consumers at ages where they have no business being consumers. And I want you to be totally clear about this…they are NOT just selling a product; they are selling the dangerous and unhealthy myth that you MUST have this toy or you cannot be happy. They are selling kids the lie that you NEED these things to be happy and popular and to fit in. Toy companies and clothing lines are dying for kids to get into the habit of pushing a few buttons and presto! you can have the latest greatest product in such a way that it seems like it is free…no money is exchanged in a little kid’s eyes.
Toys R Us wants you to believe that parents can easily limit the kind and amount of games kids play and how much they will use the internet. Really? Studies have shown us that parents today are doing a lousy job of monitoring their children’s screen time and technology usage. Only about 1/3 of all parents set limits on technologies, and the parents that did have kids who use it for at least 3 hours less per day than kids without limits. In one study, 53% of parents said they limited their children’s video game time, but only 11% of the kids said that this actually occurs.
Even as a culture, we do a terrible job of protecting kids from the damaging effects of technology. 79% of video games that are rated “E” ie. suitable for all kids at least 6 years of age, have been found to show violence. Most raters according to studies have never actually seen nor played the games they are rating; they are basing their rating on edited samples of a game that the manufacturers have sent them. That makes me feel safer, how about you?
Marketing people advertise products to kid’s “aspirational age”; meaning the age kids aspire to be, which is about 3-4 years older than they are. Thus, they will sell things geared for a 10 years old to 6-7 year old; products for a 17 year old to 13-14 year old. So advertisers are one more entity pushing our kids to grow up quicker than is healthy for them.
In a subsequent blog I will give more ideas about why young kids having their own electronics is a bad idea, including how it affects their brains, their attention spans, their ability to connect, and their creativity. But for now, keep the TV sets and video games and computers OUT OF THEIR BEDROOMS!!!! And although I think it’s fine to let young kids play on YOUR tablets for short periods of supervised time. I would NOT recommend them having their own.
For past articles I have written for local and national publications, check out my website at www.campweloki.com.