Almost all have experienced walking into a toy store and seeing the clearly divided aisles. The blue aisle is clearly for boys while the pink is for the girls. While this has been the norm for many years, in the last few years, campaign after campaign has been launched that seeks for manufacturers and retailers to stop dividing the toys and categorizing them as appropriate for either only girls or boys.
Dr. Elizabeth Sweet, in a report published by SBS News, says that “…gendered toys limit the range of skills and attributes that both girls and boys can explore through play…” Dr. Sweet is a sociologist and lecturer from UC -Davis whose research focuses on gender and toys. She recognizes that toys may prevent children from developing their interests.
Here are just some of the benefits that gender neutral toys can bring.
- It can lessen gender stereotype – because of toys, girls and boys may feel like there are certain things that are only exclusive to their respective genders. While walking at the toy store, you will readily see that the boy’s aisle will have cars, airplanes or more toys that are action-oriented, but a stroll at the girls’ aisle will reveal dolls, kitchen and tea sets and more. This only boxes the stereotypes which can be harmful when they grow up.
- It can lessen gender expectations – if society employs gender-neutral toys for children, it will lessen the expectations of each gender. There are conservative parents who feel that their children might be influenced by the toy they play. but there are psychologists who claim that a child knows their gender as early as two years old. Notice that babies are not able to show preference and would choose any toy that would catch their interest. If the toys are gendered, they will associate with that and might feel pressured.
- It lets the child make the choice for themselves – one of the things that gender-neutral toys get rid of is the pressure that children feel when choosing. When you eliminate the label, they can choose based on what they are actually interested in.
- It will widen the skills they can learn – as stated above, many psychologists and doctors have realized that gender-neutral toys have limited the skills that children need to learn. With the push of gender-neutral toys, there’s no limit to the skills they can learn.
- It’s easier to shop for gifts and such – many adults have all had the dilemma of what to buy kids for presents. Whenever there are birthdays or special occasions like Christmas, adults often have a hard time deciding on what toy to buy, especially if they are not very familiar with the child. Many tend to just buy whatever is the best-seller, hoping that it would be something the child would appreciate. But when there are no more labels on toys, you can now choose a toy by basing it on their age and not gender, which will give you a wider range of choices.