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The toy industry is booming more than ever before. There are even entire YouTube channels with millions of followers dedicated to showing kids reviewing different toys. This brings us to an important question, are too many toys bad?
Too many toys can have a negative effect on children and families by encouraging habits such as impulse buying and a focus on material possessions. Excessive toys cause stress and make it difficult for children to learn to be tidy. There are also environmental effects from toy production and disposal.
Every parent wants to provide their child with everything to make them happy, and what does every child want? A new toy! Although there are many pros to children’s toys, there are a few cons to consider as well.
A lot of toys limit imagination and pressure children
With toys like electronics and action figures, your child is limited in how they can use their imagination. Too many toys can limit creativity.
There can be pressure from the internet and social media, that makes your child feel as though they must have the latest toy. However, even when children have a lot of expensive toys that they desire, they’d rather play with the simpler toys they own. Especially with younger children who are still learning how to fully utilize some of the more expensive and complex toys that they’ve been gifted. Expensive electronics, action figures, dolls, and items of this nature aren’t the only toys that you can gift your child.
Items like musical instruments, art supplies and books are toys as well, and they are more affordable. These toys will let your children exercise their imagination and learn a new skill in the process.
Try encouraging your child to play with toys like books and art supplies. Come up with special projects that you can do as a family to create an engaging experience.
The toy story doesn’t stop here! There are many more things you should consider before buying more toys.
Too many toys are bad for children’s development
According to experts that specialize in children’s behaviour, having too many toys in the house can reduce your child’s focus and make them distracted. The University of Toledo in Ohio did a study with 36 toddlers, where they let them play in a room for 30 minutes either with 4 toys or 16 toys. The researchers found that the children who went into the room with 4 toys were more creative and played with their toys for twice as long.
There is a simple solution to make sure that your child isn’t overstimulated by too many toys, but not bored with too small of a selection. Try putting the majority of your child’s toys into any storage space that’s available to you. Only have a few toys in your child’s room at a time. Then when they begin to outgrow or get bored of those toys, swap them with different ones that you’ve kept in storage. This way they are fully utilizing their imagination without getting bored of their toys.
Another advantage of doing this is that you’ll teach your children to value the toys they have and take care of them. If they only have a few toys, they’ll have to make sure that they take care of them well in order to earn new ones. This way your children won’t see toys as being something they can easily replace, without truly comprehending the value.
You can also involve your child in the decision of which toys are being removed. The encouragement of decision making is beneficial to children developing their common sense.
The Right Toys Can Help Cognitive Development
Parents are encouraged to keep toys in the house to help their children’s cognitive development which is an excellent thing. Toys can be a great method to help your child learn problem-solving skills and other necessary skills that will help them grow. This is if you have the right ones and the right number of toys.
The block shape toys are an example of problem-solving toys that develop the foundation for critical thinking. Interactive leap-frog products are another example of a learning toy. There are many more that are crucial for the development of motor skills, as well as cognitive functioning, in children.
However, it’s safe to say that society is surpassing the desire to use toys strictly to help children’s development. Now that social media platforms exist, the marketing campaigns used by toy companies make kids want the newest and often most expensive toy they can find. Our kids are falling into the consumerist trap very early in life. Learning that you can buy happiness with the next greatest thing, which is unfortunately very untrue.
Toys impact on the environment
So, how exactly does the production of children’s toys have a negative impact on the environment? 90% of the toys that you see in stores and online are made of plastic.
After families throw their children’s plastic toys away, that plastic will then take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to fully break down.
While it is becoming more fashionable to go to the second-hand store or ‘Op Shop’, many people still prefer to buy new. Just consider, if you give some toys a new life, not only do you save yourself the money, but you also prevent them from going into landfills. It also encourages you to take the toy back to the Op Shop once your kids have outgrown it. This is because you didn’t invest too much of your hard-earned money into the item and you have witnessed the joy it can bring to another child.
If you are worried about the hazardous chemicals that some toys contain, or you want to buy toys made from non-plastic materials, try searching for a shop that sells sustainable toys. Try searching local businesses in your area to see if they sell sustainable toys, otherwise, they are available online. If toys made from sustainable materials are not in the budget or locally available to you, buy toys that are made from natural materials. Unpainted wood or bamboo are more sustainable and friendly materials toys can be made from.
Many toys contain hazardous chemicals
Most toys also contain hazardous chemicals. A test was done on 248 toys and 92% were considered a “serious risk” to not only our environment but also to ourselves. This was due to the hazardous chemicals like phthalates, found in them.
Phthalate is a chemical often used to make plastic more flexible and difficult to break. Unfortunately, this chemical can be harmful to pregnant women and children. Phthalate is connected to childhood obesity, asthma, cardiovascular issues, cancer, and reproductive problems in women.
There has recently been a big movement to purchase children’s toys that are environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, these environmentally friendly toys that are free from harmful chemicals are the minority, not the majority. The majority of the toy industry still uses excessive amounts of plastic and harmful chemicals during production. It will take several years before using sustainable materials instead of plastic becomes mainstream.
Toys are becoming more expensive
It’s safe to say that most areas in Australia require both parents to have a full-time job in order to keep up with the cost of living. If both parents are working, this means that they will have to pay for childcare on top of their other typical expenses. While these children are spending their day in childcare, they have an excessive number of toys laying around at home that are not being used.
In addition to these financial responsibilities, the prices of toys are only increasing, placing a huge burden on parents to provide expensive toys that will inevitably be outgrown. Toys can have a short lifespan in a family’s home depending on the child’s age and the toy itself. For example, a toy that helps teach a child the alphabet won’t be so useful or entertaining once they’ve mastered that skill.
Often, toys that are environmentally friendly are also more expensive. This brings us to the next point; many families don’t have the financial means to keep up with all the new toys their children want.
The Emotional and Time Cost of Toys on Parents
It’s very hard to keep a tidy home when there is an excessive amount of stuff. Every item that is brought into the home brings a cost with it. And often this cost falls onto the parents.
A disorganized house can make quite a lot of stress for some families. This stress can impact the relationship of the parents, as well as the relationship between the parents and children. There’s a reason why there are so many benefits to decluttering.
Some toys come in sets, such as puzzles, tea sets, Lego. And their intent often depends on these sets being maintained. For older kids, if you have taught them along the way, they should look after their own sets of toys and keep them together. But for young kids, this falls onto the parents to make sure the toy sets are not mixed up. Parents can easily spend hours sorting puzzle pieces into their relevant sets if they don’t have a system. This system involves keeping these toys out of reach from children and bringing them out at particular times. Then add onto this the dominos set, the Lego set, the playhouse set, the mechano set. Also, the tea set, the shopping set, the matchbox cars set, the train set, the crafts set… the list goes on. Poor parents are chasing a losing battle, just to keep it all together.
On top of this, once parents get off work, they want to come home and spend time with their
children. Instead, they have to clean up and organize toys which can be an extremely draining task when they could just be spending time with their family.
These days, many parents are having to work from home with children surrounding them which adds a new element to toy clutter. Now more than ever, excessive toys and mess are affecting parents in their work and personal lives. It might be time to declutter and destress.
Toys take up a lot of space
This leads us to most parent’s biggest frustration. A lot of families simply don’t have the space for all the toys their children are accumulating. As mentioned before, children will inevitably outgrow almost all of their toys. In addition to this, parents aren’t the only ones buying toys for their children. Other family members and friends are also buying toys for children in order to celebrate important milestones. It’s an obligatory custom at this point to gift a child with a toy to celebrate holidays and events. Therefore, even if a parent is trying to be mindful of the number of toys they buy for their children, these efforts can likely go to waste.
When it comes to not having enough space, try to be mindful of how many toys are in your house at a time. When your child has a birthday, for example, spend the week leading up to their birthday clearing out a few of their old toys. You can send the old toys to the Opportunity Shop to make room for new ones.
You can have too many toys
So, the truth is, you can definitely have too many toys! Toys can be harmful to the environment, expensive, and take up a large amount of space. There are ways to make sure your children’s toys are safe and not taking up all the space in your home. Feel free to try out some of the advice mentioned in this article and don’t feel pressured to always buy the latest toy for your children.
If you’re looking for other activities to do with your children, rather than buying toys, take a look at some of our other articles. Exercise is a good way to release stress after a long day, but how many days a week should you walk? We’ve got the best tips for parents to exercise at home, especially with children running amuck! For support with your health and wellbeing, keep connected with Vidar – health and lifestyle.