Toys - new and old

In a recent discussion over at SOLO, an argument arose as to whether parents buying "traditional" toys were doing it for their own sake rather than for their kids. I made the following comments and thought it would be worthwhile reposting here.

"Let me tell you about what my son prefers to play with. Keep in mind he's only 15 months, so most of the stuff is only appropriate for that age group. In our house we have a lot of both traditional toys and newer toys. And of the newer toys, we have simple (usually cheaper) toys and the more expensive ones with lots of lights, music, noises, and buttons. In almost ever case, our son plays more with the traditional toys, or the simple and less expensive newer toys. He loves his stacking blocks (an ancient toy), stacking them up and knocking them down. He also loves pushing things around, like his big plastic truck (doesn't make any noises), a bubble-popper thing (can't remember its actual name, but its a traditional toy), and a toy lawn-mower which does make noises. He plays with each equally, suggesting that it doesn't matter to him what types of noises it makes as long as he can push it. He
also likes his newer toy car that you can put different shape blocks in.

"Unfortunately, its kind of difficult to get the blocks in because of the mechanism to play a song when he succeeds makes it harder to succeed. If the goal is to help him identify similar shapes, this car isn't very good. He also likes his stuffed animals (certainly nothing new about them). And his all time favorite activity is to sit his
parents' lap and have a book read to him. I could go on, but I think I've made my point. Our boy definitely shows a preference for toys that are more traditional in nature. The noisy bright light toys may catch his attention for short periods of time, but don't capture the deep focus that many of the traditional toys can. So before you spout of again about "newer is better", why don't you make an argument for it. Or better yet, spend some time observing children as they play. Most children could give a rats ass about many toys sold today. They play with them for a minute then flitter on to something else. But a toy that commands his attention for 5, 10, 20 minutes or more, that's something worth purchasing.

"The fact of the matter is, I have, and likely many parents have, seriously questioned the value of some of the new stuff on the market. Just like my parents did when I was a kid. There was a lot of crap sold then too. Notice how none of that crap is still around. Its because parents quickly realized it lacked value. The things I remember playing with most as a kid are the same things that challenged me,
allowed me to fantasize, and made a lasting impression. They made an impression for a reason...because they were good. Not just good in a subject sense, which is exactly what you are accusing me and many parents of, but good in an objective sense. Those traditional toys offered ways for me to become more capable of living in this world. They helped me to develop my mind, so that today I can flourish.

"As to the types of toys I had as a kid. I can't remember anything before I was 5. Of the toys I played with after 5, I remember playing a lot with matchbox cars, star wars figures, legos, and sports stuff (soccer, baseball, badmitton, volleyball, hockey). I also read a lot and played outside a lot. My parents could not afford many of the expensive toys, so I learned how to use my imagination with cheaper toys."

I don't deny that some parents may buy traditional toys for subjective reasons. But I certainly don't fall into that category and many of the parents I've talked to don't do it either.

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