Moralizing About Play. Ugh! It’s That Time of The Year

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Don't let the fruitcakes get you down.  

Being called a Mrs. Grundy (not to be confused with Miss Grundy from the Archie Comics) was a 19th century name for someone who felt morally superior and judgmental. The term may stem from the 19th century but Mrs. Grundy and her judgmental off-spring are still with us in the 21st century…particularly when it comes to toys.

The three months prior to the toy giving and receiving holiday of Christmas is when these people seem to come out of the woodwork. Typically they like to admonish us about how unsafe our toys are. Visit the Trouble In Toyland website and you will find warnings about everything that is fun and popular including Slime (watch out for Boron), toys with sound (they may be too loud) and "Hatching" toys (packaging may be dangerous).

And how about this ludicrous headline, "Electric toys could be damaging to developing brain", that appeared on the KCTV website. When you see the headline your first reaction is that it is referring to battery operated or electrically wired toys (which have been around for over 100 years).

Its not. Whomever wrote the headline misstated. Rather, the piece is about "electronic" toys and the absence of hands-on physical play. I wonder how many toys that come with batteries or plugs will go unsold due that particular headline.

And then there is this article: "Christmas 2018: Doctors recommend kids play with empty boxes instead of high-tech toys."  The article expounds:

Skip the costly electronic games and flashy digital gizmos. Pediatricians say the best toys for kids are old-fashioned hands-on playthings that young children can enjoy with parents — things like blocks, puzzles — even throwaway cardboard boxes — that spark imagination and creativity.

That is certainly great advice if you live in a 19th century village but today's children are going to live as adults in a world dominated by the digital and the robotic.

Lack of digital playtime means they will be unprepared to navigate a world which we may not like but which is inevitable for our children and grandchildren.

In my opinion children should play with all kinds of toys, physical, digital, homemade or store-bought. Children need physical toys in order to learn about real world physics and digital toys to learn about virtual world dynamics. 

Bottom line, don't let the moralizers get you down. We are in the midst of a joyous time of year in which we get to, not just play, but celebrate play. Yes, too much screen time is bad and yes parents should monitor play with new toys. But these are minor factors in a time of year devoted to children, candy canes, toys, and family.  Don't let the fruitcakes get you down.


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