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| Toys and Games

04/25/15

Toying around: Do toys really deserve blame for violence?

Decades ago, you'd be hard pressed to get too wrapped up in a discussion that centered on toys, specifically the idea that some could be considered inappropriate or "bad" for kids of varying ages.
As a kid in the 1980s, I played with everything from G.I. Joe to Star Wars and everything in between as a young boy. I had just about every WWF wrestling action figure that existed, and every day playing was like the "Royal Rumble" and "Wrestlemania." I punched, kicked and "rough housed" with those wrestlers until the paint wore off, and no one was ever concerned about me taking that grappling or violent mindset out into the real world, such as places like school, church or anywhere else publicly. My parents didn't think too long and hard about buying me toy guns or anything else that had would be violent overtones associated with them. As for the aforementioned wrestlers, I was allowed to watch the television product, too. My parents never told me not to body slam my sister, but I'm sure if I got too rough for my own good and was heading in that direction, they'd have cut me off the way a "good guy" in wrestling intercepts the "bad guy" on one of the many wrestling programs I watched.
That sentiment allows parents and individuals alike to really question how much influence toys have on kids and if having certain toys pushes them toward a certain behavior. Inherently, you have to admit that a lot of what ails questionable toys is how they're presented and used with or without the watchful eye of mom and dad.
Much the way I wasn't allowed to punch and kick my sister the same way I played with my wrestlers, kids can't take the aspect of playing with toys too far that it extends into how they interact with adults or other children. If parents notice that behavior breaking through, then the toy goes away and discussions abound subsequently. The toy machine gun works when you're bouncing around your room and pretending you're taking out storm troopers. When the gun gets pointed at real people, the gun goes in the trash, much the same way I would have bid farewell to the likes of Hulk Hogan and "Macho Man" Randy Savage had I opted to give a classmate or cousin a flying elbow to the head after one too many of those pretend ones at home.
Parents and advocates who aren't fans of toys that exude realism make fair points, and there certainly is nothing wrong with wanting to state their case about why they shouldn't be purchased at all. Moms and dads who see nothing wrong with buying them, however, shouldn't be pinpointed as perpetuating an ongoing issue. They're undoubtedly prepared to handle the fallout, should any actually occur.

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