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| Toys and Games

02/06/16

Fun control: Why some toys and games should stay on shelves

What is inappropriate for your kids as far as toys and games go? Is there such a thing as toy that can promote violence to the point that it actually takes place?
This debate has raged on for years, the moment video games took a step toward an R rating, and acts of violence by kids and teens took a turn for the worse.
Are video games to blame? Should parents be shamed for every toy gun every bought and sold? Are toys in general to blame for the fact that they've gotten a lot more mature over the course of the last two decades?
I know personally, I've heard this debate for years, as a former writer for a major newspaper who wrote about professional wrestling. I was a kid in the mid 1980s, five years old in 1985 to be exact, and I loved wrestling. 
Hulk Hogan was my idol, and I had all the toys and watched all the shows. But as wrestling hit its high point in the mid 1980s and again the late 1990s, the two didn't run parallel as far as how kids reacted to this form of entertainment.
I don't remember hearing a lot in the 1980s about kids hurting other kids or body slamming them or acting up while wrestling or emulating their favorite superstars. I never body slammed or clothes lined my sister, but the late 1990s saw a rise in violent acts that some tried to pin on professional wrestling.

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I, as a writer, wasn't interested in defending wrestling unless I thought it necessary, and most of the time when I heard of such violence acts, my first though was: where were mom and dad? In some cases, they weren't around at all.
Now, I'm not blaming parents at all, but I do know that when I watched wrestling, I didn't do it alone. I also know that if I was "horsing around" with my sister, that I was told to calm down.
I realize 2016 is a lot different than 1985, especially how toys and video games have started to become more realistic and less about playing and more about acting out scenarios of sorts.
But I do believe that toys don't lead to violence, and games don't either, for one very important reason: parents don't allow it to happen. Whether that means not buying the toys or all or giving the toys to kids with a disclaimer that they're toys and nothing more. I realize this conversation with your kids might seem a little odd given that they're, well, referred to as "toys" but that doesn't mean handing a child a toy machine gun shouldn't come with rules, too.
As a child, I had toy guns, too, and I would run through the house and pretend to shoot people. I also was told that shooting people is wrong and this is just pretend. Did that help? I'm assuming so, but I don't know if those conversations or reprimands are as consistent as they should be.
I don't think banning toys is the answer, as much as it is parents asking and answering questions about violent games and toys, especially if the answer is "no," when kids ask if they can have something in the toy or game vein they shouldn't.

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