Black Friday 2022: Buy kids toys that are gifts for creativity and autonomy
Black Friday 2022: Buy kids toys that are true gifts, not Disney characters and electronics
As Black Friday looms, heralding the toy-marketing frenzy also known as the holiday season, I find myself remembering a scene that still takes my breath away: Fourteen-month-old Arielle sits on a rug with an old baby doll, a stuffed bear and a couple of books. Notable for their absence of buttons to push or screens to swipe, these objects neither talk, beep, move nor play music. They merely lie there, waiting for someone to do something with them.
Arielle explores the baby doll while making the only sound in the room, a combination of crooning and babbling. Arielle’s hand wanders up its torso until it encounters a tiny ear. She bends over, using one finger to trace its contours. Reaching up, she first feels one of her own ears and then both ears simultaneously. She alternates between tracing the doll’s ear and her own a few more times until, satisfied, she turns her attention elsewhere.
Incessant noise is a threat to physical and psychological health. In fact, it has long been used as a form of torture. Like adults, children need times that are quiet.
I am witnessing a paradoxically astonishing and completely ordinary feat of human learning — at least for neurotypical kids in safe, loving environments. Something piques Arielle’s curiosity: Is her body like her doll’s? With no outside prodding, she satisfies that curiosity, feeling the doll’s body and herself. Sadly, for many kids, experiences like Arielle’s are increasingly infrequent. One obvious reason is that children’s leisure time is often dominated by screens. But at this time of year, another reason comes into focus.
Check out what’s featured on lists of hot holiday toys. To name just a few, there’s the Barbie Little Dreamhouse, replete with lights, phrases and songs; the VTech Level Up Gaming Chair, with its own tablet, joystick and pretend headphones; the Bluey Ultimate Lights and Sounds Playhouse, featuring 50-plus sounds.