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The Death of the Toy Store

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Binary, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. Binary

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    I think it's getting harder and harder for parents to teach their kids that they need to spend time outside. I don't agree with the curmudgeonly opinion that things like iPads are bad for kids necessarily, but as more and more of our daily lives are wrapped up in technology, it's harder to deflect some of that away. Kids see what their friends have, and what the media shows, and what the general population thinks is cool and they want that.

    I grew up watching extremely little TV. I didn't have a video game console. I had a computer when I was 12, but up until that point we just had a TV with no cable that we'd use to watch football on Sundays. The rest of the time, we spent time outside, or reading, or playing our own games. Consequently, as an adult, I now spend time being active, I have a good, fundamental understanding of how to be healthy, and I'm well read. I have trouble believing that an iPad is going to make a kid literary, or creative, even though those things are certainly possible with the technology.

    edit: to clarify, I think kids should be exposed to technology. They should use technology. I just think that if you give a kid a piece of portable technology, they're going to use it to the exclusion of all else. Make stuff like this available, but there needs to be oversight and limitations.

    In any event, just out of curiosity, how many of you Idiots got $300-500 toys when you were kids? My parents were well off, but they didn't typically spend multiple hundreds on one present for us. Even when they bought me a nice bike to replace all the beaters I had ridden, it wasn't until I was about 12.
     
  2. rei

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    My family first got a computer when I was 5 (and it was an amazing 486!). I know I asked for a laptop every year from when i was 8 to when I was 13-14. If kids are exposed to technology and think they can use it, or it looks pretty, then they'll want it.

    However my parents were smart enough to not give a ten year old a laptop. I still played with toys, but by ten I was more focused on playing a pokemon rom on the IBM Aptiva I got at a garage sale. It was just another plaything though, we'd play hide and seek and have nerf gun fights, but I'd also dick around on my computer.

    Kids asking for iPads just want it as another cool toy, I doubt they don't want anything else, they just are more drawn to marketing and 'coolness'. And not every (or most) kids should actually get an iPad, no matter what they actually asked for.
     
  3. Gator

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    Have you been to a Toy 'r us lately?

    All the toys suck. They are all expensive and designed to be broken (Beyblades, Ninjagos, Bakugan, etc). I loved smashing my toys when I was a kid, but Matchbox Cars and Army men weren't $8-$12 each. Or they are so complicated, the kids can't even work them. It took me 2 hours to put something together last Christmas and about 10 minutes before some tiny little plastic thing broke and the toy was shit. I jammed it back in the box and took it back to Toys r us.
     
  4. Popped Cherries

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    I'd love to rant and rave for pages upon pages why this is ridiculous. I even have first hand experience as my girlfriend's daughter just got a handmedown iPad.

    I'll simply state, there is almost nothing redeeming about an iPad/iPod/laptop/cell phone, that a 10 year old could possibly have a need for.

    The one knock against the toys of today are, it's getting harder and harder to find "simple" items for a kid to enjoy. Everything is MEGA this or SUPER XTRA AWESOME that. Go into Toys R' Us and see how difficult it is to find just a regular run of the mill metal tonka dump truck. If it doesn't come with a missile launcher, a police siren, and needs 18 AAA batteries, it probably won't make it to the shelves. Even the Legos (and fuck I LOVED my Legos) have gotten more commercialized. I don't think it's even possible to buy just regular Legos anymore. It's either the Star Wars special edition or the Harry Potter Hogwarts Express.
    I don't think kids should be bombarded with so much "stuff" at such an early age. Let them be kids until they turn 10-12. Some of my best memories as a kid was running through the woods with a sword I made out of a three pronged stick and I slayed many a pile of evil badguy weeds. My childhood memories did not involve me getting on Skype or playing with my Justin Beiber iPad app.
     

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  5. The Village Idiot

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    I have a thesis, and it's unproven other than anecdotal evidence I have personally seen:

    1. We live in a society of fear
    2. Children need to be socialized a certain way in order to continue consumerism as an economic model

    I'm sure many of you are thinking 'Ok, here's proof positive that VI has lost his mind' but allow me a moment:

    When we were kids, we went outside (I'm 39) and were not subject to constant adult supervision and hyper vigilance. Parents are so terrified (because the media trains them to be scared) that their children will be taken/abused/killed/hooked on crack in .56 seconds if they aren't watched. Despite statistics that show violent crime has gone down over the past 35 years, and that children have far more to fear from people they know than perfect strangers (statistically speaking). Since kids are never left alone, they are under the supervision of adults, whom can only take so much supervising before they lose what tenuous grasp on sanity they may have left. Thus the rise in children's movies (seriously, how many cartoon movies a year do we need? We made due with the Disney shit that had been around for 60 years) as well as tv programming. Why? Because we're too afraid to let our children outside, therefore, they need to be inside. Since they need to be inside where the adults are, they need to be controlled so they don't drive everyone nuts. Thus, we sit them in front of tvs and video games. Yes, you can blame parents, but realistically, would you want to have to watch a kid 24/7? Yeah, I wouldn't either. And lest we forget, our parents didn't either. Except society wasn't telling them that they were bad people and threatening to take away their kids if they weren't suprevised 24/7.

    Consumerism: as an economic model requires constant feeding. People die. People are born. Therefore, you need to train the new people how to be consumers so the consumer train can keep right on rolling. As cigarette companies showed us in the 60's, if you grab them young, they're yours for life. Look, I like my Mac, and I like my iPhone, but ipads are being marketed to children (and more directly children's parents) through a campaign of fear: if your kid doesn't have one, he'll fall behind educationally, and therefore be too stupid to run away from attackers/rapists/crack dealers. Or not get in a good school. Or get a good job.

    Ipads can be educational, but so can books and regular toys.

    Based on the foregoing, I believe that toymakers figured out that their sales are dwindling, and their market is shrinking. No new buyers, and toy buyers who necessarily outgrow the market at a certain age means that new toys are probably more expensive to produce then they'll bring in in the long run.

    Like I said, it's a theory.
     
  6. PIMPTRESS

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    Oh my, we do this every year. But I still get my panties in a twist over it because WHAT THE FUCK?! (Yeah, it's Shark Week and I am extra bitchy). I grew up well off, I had horses for chrissakes. I didn't get my first one until I had displayed responsibility for my passion: I worked for two years(5xweek) at a barn just to get lessons. I didn't get a horse until I was 14. Until then, I was all about books, He-Man and Skeletor (and She-Ra), every toy horse you could find in every make and model, my BMX and the Texas sunshine warming my back as I waged a thousand fantasy battles.

    My SIX year old son brought me a Best Buy ad to show me what phone he wanted. I told him that when he was a teenager, that particular option should be affordable. He was upset and began naming the kids in his class with phones. First graders need Androids. Really. Then I talk to him for awhile (about 12 minutes, because kids are only SO compelling) and determine that he doesn't really want for anything, these are what his peers want. My kids do not watch t.v. at my place. Period. They can watch movies or play video games (LeapFrog-style) or play with their toys, which fill eight toy boxes. He doesn't know what he is supposed to want!

    What he did know he wanted was to "play a game on mom's day off." Done, kid.

    Gah. Mr. P got them a refurbished XBox 360 for Christmas, along with several games. If that was all I gave them, they'd be stoked. Hopefully they will let us play with them.


    edit: I like VI's theory, I do not feel I can just kick my kids out 'til dark like my parents did. Something has got to give.
     

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  7. The Village Idiot

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    You're not the only one by a damn sight. My friends, whom were raised in a similar fashion to me, whom all have kids, say the exact same thing: they don't let their kids out unsupervised. When we talk about it, they're not even necessarily sure why they're that way (and many of these are very intelligent well educated people) but they KNOW they are uneasy if the kids are unsupervised, especially outside.

    I'm not sure I'd be any different if I were a parent.
     

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  8. Frank

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    My biggest issue with where technology is taking our culture is that it's KILLING creativity in children. When you play a high resolution video game with a big story there is no room for ambiguity, all the thinking is done for you, you are just hitting the buttons to get through the game and taking in someone else's story. There are no cracks that need to be filled with imagination.

    Furthermore while it's an excellent resource, stuff like wikipedia is taking all the fun out of stupid childhood discussions. Do you remember the stupid shit you and your friends use to make up to explain something you didn't have an answer for? You had to use your imagination for that, now you can just pull out your phone or go to a computer and settle every almost every debate with a black and white answer. Without that ambiguity, imagination doesn't get sparked and creativity isn't developed.

    Not only that, but toys today are so much more pigeon holed. You don't just have simple toys anymore, you have specific branded toys like Buzz Light Year, which while cool can only be Buzz Light Year while a stick can be a sword, a wand or a gun. This is also why I think LARPing and table top role-playing games are such a good thing for people, it forces you to make something up from scratch.

    Here's Chater's take on it.

     
    #8 Frank, Dec 14, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2015
  9. Elset

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    I disagree. But who cares what I think. This guy seems like he actually know what he's talking about.
     
    #9 Elset, Dec 14, 2011
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  10. lhprop1

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    My wife and I have agreed that there will be no video games allowed in our house. A large reason for childhood obesity is the fact that parents let their kids sit around and play video games all damn day. Our kids will not have that option. Unfortunately, most of their friends will probably be allergic to sunlight and fresh air so he won't have anyone to go outside and play with.

    I already have a fleet of vintage Tonka trucks for my 3 month old son to play with when he gets old enough. He also has his first fishing rod, though he probably won't get to use it for a few years and I'm anxiously awaiting the day when I get to go and pick out his first pistol, shotgun, and rifle.
     
  11. D26

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    It's cute that you think this will work.

    Look, kids want what their peers have. If every other kid has a video game system, two things are going to happen:

    1) They will play video games at their friends houses, thus negating the whole "they'll not get fat and play video games" theory
    2) They will beg for a video game system because they will be at least somewhat ostracized for being the 'weird kid' without video games

    Go ahead and tell me you didn't make fun of the kid that didn't have a TV. The kid that didn't have a TV in my school was really smart, but he was made fun of consistently by the other kids. I can distinctly recall him being made fun of because he couldn't watch TV when he got home like everyone else. The few friends he did have refused to go to his house because watching TV wasn't an option. With how prolific video games, tablets, and smart phones are getting, it will be hard to deny a kid those luxuries when all of their peers have them.

    Moderation is the key. Having video games isn't evil and isn't causing kids to be fat. Lazy parents who park their kids in front of a video game and use it as a babysitter are the reason kids get fat. Parents who don't cook for their kids and feed them nothing but Happy Meals are the reasons kids get fat.

    There are plenty of educational games on the iPad. My 5 year old nephew uses my parents iPad all the time to play word writing games, and his writing and his spelling have both improved. There is some educational value. My parents don't let him play anything BUT the educational games, and they watch what he is doing. He also can only play it on the couch, and never for more than half an hour during a visit. Otherwise, he is playing with his matchbox cars or other toys, or swimming in the pool (in the summer).

    The point is simple: moderation. Kids can play video games, but only a set amount of time per day. They want a phone? Fine, get them a cheap phone. They can have a smart phone when they're older and can appreciate it. Monitor how much they're using the phone and who they're calling. Get them toys that require them to go outside (we're getting my nephew a Nerf football for Christmas). Again, you can't deny your kids these things, not in today's society. Just keep it moderated.
     
  12. lhprop1

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    If they want to go to their friends' houses to play video games, that's fine. There's nothing we can do about it. Once he gets old enough to mow lawns or deliver papers (if those jobs aren't taken over by some automated computer yet) and he can save his money and pay for a tv and video game machine, that's fine, too. By that age, he will have experienced enough to know that video games don't compare to the real thing.
     
  13. audreymonroe

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    I'm still not really convinced that adults need iPads. (Although I've been seeing some awesome uses for them for businesses.)

    Kids shouldn't have smart phones or iPads or ereaders. All other technology I'm fine with from, I guess I would say, preteens on. I just went shopping for a present for my whatever-it-is-when-your-cousin-has-a-kid who's somewhere between 8 and 10. I thought it was going to be so much fun, but that shit was stressful. I didn't go to Toys R Us, because I'm too cool. I was in these cute little mom and pop toy stores in Tribeca because I figured their toys would be AWESOME, but I ended up getting a jewelry making kit that I'm worried will be too tough for her at that age because I have no concept for that stuff. So many things seemed lame or boring or too complicated . I can kind of sympathize with those parents whose kid wants an iPad, they go into the store to find a better alternative, look around to see what's available and go "enh, fuck it. I'll just get them the iPad."
     
  14. Noland

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    I think this is bullshit. As a general rule the first things out of their mouths when I get home is usually a variant of "Can we go to the park?" So, we go to the park. Not very hard.

    It will and does work. We do not own a game console. Yes, they play at their friend's houses. I can't control that, but it doesn't really bother me if they play when they visit a friend.

    As for your second point, let me introduce you to a word: "No." Also, I have zero concern that their future social lives will be in any way negatively effected because they do not have a Wii.
     
  15. Rush-O-Matic

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    Except, apparently, that does seem hard for some parents. Or, they set priorities differently. I think that's one of the things contributing to the change in toy types. For you to agree to take your kids to the park when you get home means that you have chosen to care about that. Some parents would say, "ugh, I just got home from busting my ass all day. I don't want to go to the park. Why don't you play with your xbox for a while?" To some parents, it's easier to let them watch TV, or play with the iPad, than to encourage and participate in simple, imaginative play. Family dynamics are different than they were 25 years ago, there are different demands on time, and the parents themselves have access to different "toys."
     
  16. Frank

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    Maybe I missed it, but I didn't hear him mention the words creativity or imagination in the entire 16+ minute video. I never said that I think technology stifles productivity or makes kids less focused, I just think that this generation growing up is less likely to pretend a red ball is a dragon or make up creative answers during conversations with friends.

    And for the record, I don't think video games naturally hinder creativity. I think the older games like Mario that never had a set story (in the game) lend themselves to creativity because the kid playing can make up their own back story.
     
    #16 Frank, Dec 14, 2011
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  17. Binary

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    Perhaps you misunderstood. I didn't say it was impossible, or that once they are used to it, they won't continue to enjoy it. I am also not excusing the parents that don't do it.

    What I am saying is there are more and more external influences targeted at keeping kids indoors, and it takes an increasing effort to combat those influences. Once it is ingrained, obviously it's not like you have to beat it into them every day. However, I don't think it's crazy to suggest that, as the years go on, each new parent has to battle more and more influences aimed at increasing the media consumption of kids.

    Whereas the default behavior for a lot of kids used to involve going outside, that's no longer the case. It requires active involvement to instill the behavior in kids.
     
  18. dixiebandit69

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    Evidently you aren't looking hard enough. I just bought a Lego Kingdoms castle for Li'l Bandit this weekend, and while most of the Lego aisle was Harry Potter/Star Wars/Pirates of the Carribean themed, they still have basic Lego sets.

    I hate video games. I've never had a video game console; yes, I was the weird kid growing up, and people did give me shit about it. But I didn't care. Every Christmas season my mom would ask if I wanted a Nintendo, and I declined. You know what I asked for? Guns. And my dad, God bless him, would get them for me.
    Unfortunately, Li'l Bandit loves video games, and I blame my ex-wife. She was the one who got him into them, and it seems like the only gifts she ever gives him are more video games. Hell, she got him a Nintendo DS (whatever that is) for Christmas this year.
    Fuck video games.
     
  19. lhprop1

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    There you go with your dragons, again.
     
  20. rachiii

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    Of course it'll work! I didn't have video games growing up, wasn't allowed to watch more than half an hour of TV a night until I was 12 or so (or I had a babysitter), and basically never watched movies. I read a ton, worked my ass off at my horse farm, and I never suffered for lack of these technologies. I also never went to a ton of effort to search them out; to this day I don't own a single video game/game console, and I have a TV but no cable because I don't get the point of paying for it.

    Have I occasionally been made fun of? Sure, but I did REALLY well in school, and played a bunch of sports and competed in equestrian stuff, and I could handle it/people realized they were stupid for mocking me. As a need for technology presented itself, my parents bought things for me, but it was never just because I wanted it.

    I think the single most valuable thing I had as a child was a farm to work on. It taught me a great work ethic, kept me outside all of the time and away from TV/video games/etc, and taught me the value of doing things yourself. I also remember loving the most basic toys--building blocks, legos, etc--and would be terribly sad about my childhood without those. I can't imagine giving a child of mine all of this technology right away, because kids need some time to be kids.