The Deserted Schoolyard. What It Means for the Toy Industry and For Kids

How will children spread the word about new movies, television shows, video games, and, yes, toys, with their social network out of operation?

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I like to call the schoolyard the playground social network. Its a place where children gather before school and during recess to share their movie, television, and toy passions. My thoughts turned to that world as I spoke with Gerrick Johnson, Toy & Leisure Analyst for BMO Capital Markets.

Gerrick is an extremely sharp, informed person who keeps a close and studied eye on the toy industry. He is the go-to guy for those who invest in toy companies. During our conversation, Gerrick mentioned that “without school in session, the cool kids are not able to influence other kids with their play and entertainment passions.

Many toy fads have started in the country’s schoolyards. A kid that other kids look up to brings a toy to school. Pretty soon, everyone at school is craving the same toy. And then the magic happens as the passion moves from schoolyard to schoolyard, city to city, state to state, and eventually country to country. Silly Bandz, Fijit Spinners, Beanie Babies and many other hot toys found their way into children’s hearts and their parents’ wallets by the unseen and mysterious migration of ideas that comes when kids get together.

We and the children we serve now face a phenomenon, no schoolyard fun, for the first time since the 1918 flu epidemic. How will children spread the word about new movies, television shows, video games, and, yes, toys, with their social network out of operation?

Yes, there is YouTube and TickTock. And, yes, there are social influencers like Ryan and Evan. But what they all lack is the sheer innocence of children, with nothing to gain, sharing what means the most to them when they are five, six, seven or eight.

As business people, we will miss the excitement and the dollars that result when children feel that love for a toy, a character, or a movie. For us, however, it’s business. For children, there is a much bigger loss. They miss out on being alone with their peers – no adults around – and sharing their secrets, passions, hates, and loves.

I sure will be glad when this COVID thing is over.

3 thoughts

  1. Yes! That used to be huge for me and my friends, and THE main way that I learned about new toys and video games. Of course, I didn’t have the internet at all back then in the early 90s, and it was a long time before we did, and even then it was a long time before we had it in the form it’s in today. However I can still see how the playground / schoolyard has an effect even with the internet. I didn’t realize it until reading this article, but it was such an important part of life for me growing up.

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