Children's toys and consumerism: a dangerous combination?
21 September, 2017
It has recently made headlines that doctors have warned that Nerf guns can cause serious eye injuries. They cited multiple examples of people being left with short-term sight loss as a result of the toys, and have warned that it is important to use goggles when playing with them. Is this a sign that children’s toys are becoming more dangerous? Or is it a sign that we are over-protecting our children from being … well... children?
Previous generations may remember growing up without as many gadgets and gismos as children have today. As consumerism grows, so does the need for children’s brands to compete in an ever-growing market by creating the next big thing. This means that children’s toy guns get bigger and bigger (anyone else remember potato guns?) and other toys get fancier and fancier. There’s very little that hasn’t been done in the children’s toy world, and hand in hand with this increase comes the risk of injury. Is enough being done to make sure children are safe? Or is too much being done?
There are often articles in the news about children’s toys being recalled. For example this plastic ball-shaped rattle, which was recalled as it contained small parts that would be released if the item broke. Or a recall of a toy chipmunk for babies, which was recalled due to one reported injury. Recalls show that brands are usually quick to respond to any issues with their products, but does the fact that they happen suggest that there isn’t enough quality control? As brands rush to push out the latest toys and games, are they cutting corners in a bid to get ahead of the game?
Surely you’ve all heard of fidget spinners by now (and if not where have you been?) but this latest fad caused quite a stir, and with as with most fads they ended up being banned in schools. However, fidget spinners actually began as a way of helping children with autism and behavioural issues focus. Unfortunately, with their popularity came accidents, as they were found to have edges that could puncture skin and eyes. As a result of this, and due to the distraction they caused in schools, they were banned from classrooms. Should we include fidget spinners in the ever growing list of dangerous children’s toys? Or are they simply a toy that got misused due to their extreme popularity?
The banning of children’s toys is nothing new - I’m sure every reader can remember at least one thing being banned while they were at school, whether it was conkers, marbles, yoyos or whatever the latest fad was then. The difference was, that often they were banned for the disruption they caused, rather than due to injuries and accidents.
In the past, there was much more emphasis on letting ‘children be children’ and allowing them to roam free. Have we lost this? Arguably not, children are still children, it’s just that there is so much more to protect them from. Thanks to the rise in consumerism there are many more gadgets and toys available, and parents need to be aware of the dangers and risks involved. While it may seem obvious to some that Nerf guns could cause injury; to others the risks may not be as clear. Especially as there are now videos on YouTube demonstrating to children how to make these guns more powerful. This suggests that even where the product itself might not be dangerous, it can certainly become so, thanks to the rise of a technology-minded generation.
Arguably, children’s toys are becoming more dangerous, and it is important as parents that we monitor what we provide our children with. No, we can’t protect them from everything and, while you don’t want to prevent them having the latest thing, it’s probably a good idea to arm ourselves with as much information as possible. That way we can make informed decisions on behalf of those we are responsible for.