So much is written about how kids are consuming electronic media, lulled into a stupor by electronic games and generally disengaged. That may play well in the media, but is it reality? I’m starting to think not so much.
I’ve been talking to a ton of parents lately about their plans for the summer and what their kids are interested in, and I’m happy to report that spending three months glued to a screen is not what’s happening in the real world—where most of us live.
No, there seems to be a healthy interest in classic toys—everything from vehicles, to arts and crafts to dolls and games. And, all the fears about kids being unattended also seems to be media-driven. Parents are actually going to let kids ride bikes this summer. Now there are rules, and it’s not likely to be like when I was a kid when you hit the streets after breakfast and came home for lunch and dinner, but there’s still plenty of freedom.
And I’m not just saying this, either. Toy sales seem to indicate that classic are doing well, particularly when they have some kind of new innovation. There are, for example, FyrFlyz and DaGeDar that have just been launched and are finding kid fans all over. The first is a version of a washer on a string, and the second are hopped up marbles. Talk about your classic toys!
The other idea that we’re hearing a lot is that parents want kids to play with classic toys. I had the pleasure of having lunch with a bunch of moms in Phoenix last week, and they talked at length about the value of toys, why so-called “hot” toys aren’t necessarily for them and the things that engaged their kids. Time and again, it is the simple toys that engage the imagination, have a bit of a learning curve and keep them engaged that parents talk about. These are the toys that parents and caregivers are happy to spend money on because they will be played with over time.
Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t promotional toys that kids will want. Just check out our Summer Movie Toys or that screens are going away. Many parents talk to me about the facility even their younger kids have with working an iPad or an iPhone. It’s wonderful to hear, however, that kids are having a variety of play experiences. Of course, kids don’t change that much from generation to generation. Play still serves the same developmental and social needs of kids; it’s just that with technology the toybox gets bigger.
We also know that, as we always say, “the hot toy is only hot if it’s hot for your kid.” It’s a little like food: kids may like a variety of different things, but they won’t know until they try.
Most importantly, encourage your kids to have a balanced summer—some reading, some alone time, some family time, active play, quiet play. These may seem like classic or “old school” things to you, but remember for your kids they’re brand new. And that’s part of their magic.