Children and toys, and imaginary play go hand in hand. Small children find joy by playing with toys, being interactive with peers and playing make believe. When purchasing toys, parents will often look for the popular “hot toys” of the season.
Unfortunately, sometimes these purchases are done without deeper reflection. You may ask your self what’s so “deep” about toys that they would need reflection? Well, it’s important to be informed of toys and popular culture for a few reasons.
As a parent, when you see the latest toy “sensation” flying off the shelves, and your child is asking repeatedly for that toy, would you think that you would need to ask yourself if the toy is sexually appropriate? This likely wouldn’t be your first thought. Surely if these toys are on the shelves for sale in large department stores there would have been a quality control process? And other parents and children are openly playing with them. It’s a “must have” toy!
LOL Surprise Dolls and Troll dolls are the most recent toys to be profiled in the media and parents are surprised by what they are reading and finding out about them. Let’s go “deeper” into understanding this. LOL Surprise Dolls are dolls that have a “surprise” (each doll revealing something different as their ‘surprise’). What a surprise some parents got when they put one version of the doll in ice cold water and the doll had sexually suggestive clothing on (which was only revealed once immersed into water). Similarly, Troll dolls had a “button” that was inappropriately placed between the dolls legs and when pushed the doll exclaims “Whee!” accompanied by giggles, or “Oh!”.
As parents and adults who care about children, it is very important that we all keep ourselves apprised of these things and be mindful in our purchase as well as open discussions with our children and adolescents. Further, the concern is that without ‘pushback’ to those who produce these items, sexualized, inappropriate sexual and explicit images and toys can become socially acceptable simply be unquestioned. Unfortunately this also can be seen with children’s clothing (i.e., “high heels” for little girls, popularizing lingerie for tweens, etc.).
We commend retailers like Amazon and Walmart for pulling the toys off their shelves. We know that it is important to have regular, ongoing, and developmentally appropriate conversations with children about normal development, relationships, sexual development, etc. Without this coming from parents and safe adults, information can be inaccurate, stereotyped, and potentially even dangerous.