Why are gender toys bad

Parents develop the best plans, which then shatter on their children. Many are currently swearing to refuse the toy industry's light blue and pink craze. They emphasize that their children are not given toys that are specifically offered for boys or girls; their children will grow up freed from the shackles of crippling stereotypes.

That’s the theory. In practice, powerful boys are just getting started on the playground around a plastic thing and shouting with sheer dubious enthusiasm: "Bagger! Bagger!" In addition, the girls bake cakes in glitter butterfly molds and happily do their thing. Only the parents are unhappy, see their resentment against the industry confirmed and think: What have we done wrong?

The answer is nothing. Girls and boys prefer different toys no matter what their parents think. Psychologists working with Brenda Todd from the University of London wrote in the journal Infant and Child Development published an analysis of the study situation of the past 85 years - and the result is clear: girls prefer to play with girls' toys; and boys prefer to occupy themselves with boys' toys.

Toy preferences "appear to be the result of innate and social factors"

The researchers evaluated studies with children up to eight years old, in which they could choose toys themselves from a range. Vehicles were considered typical of young people, dolls were typical of girls, and neutral puzzles or books, for example. The effect was evident regardless of when and where the studies were done. It also made no difference whether the children's countries of origin placed particular emphasis on gender equality; the preferences always differed significantly.

Perhaps the work of the psychologist gives parents consolation when the son desperately wants Lego Nexo Knights staring in front of weapons or the daughter desperately wants a Barbie doll. At first this has nothing to do with failure of upbringing. Toy preferences "appear to be the result of innate and social factors," the researchers said. There is a mild genetic predisposition that boys are more into vehicles and girls more toward dolls. At first this is neither good nor bad - just like that. These basic preferences are reinforced by the social environment: role models, media, advertising and the range of toys. In terms of industry, this means that companies use gender-specific goods to satisfy an existing need - and fuel it.

The influence of parents is also limited because the highest pressure to conform is found among children themselves. According to Todd, three to five year olds in particular pick on other little ones when they play with the wrong toys. From around the age of seven, the child's pressure to conform and the interest in gender-specific toys slowly decrease again. Out of the vast majority of children, quite sensible adults grow up. And no child is automatically lost to the dark side if their favorite toy contradicts the socio-political ideas of their parents.