Thursday, April 14, 2011

Toys & Gender

This word cloud was made from listening to tv commercials for boy toys and girl toys. Can you guess which word cloud goes with which gender? Bet you can. The size of the word indicates how frequently it was used. The bigger the word, the more often it was used.
We often think that by buying boy toys for boys and girl toys for girls that we are just helping them "become normal" in a social sense. Watch this video about what is normal in advertising for children.

What do you think about the idea that there should be no advertising directed at children? Do you think that gendered toys and advertising change children's ideas about what is possible for them professionally? Check out this article about the effect of gendered toys on children's education:
Playing Fair?
Do you think it's possible that the lack of technology, science, and building-based toys effects how girls perform in school? Do you think that boy's toys limit their potential? What would happen if the messages sent to boys and girls via toys and advertising were mixed up? Find out by playing this game:
Gendered Advertising Remixer
What is your intuitive response to mixing up these advertisements? Do you find them ridiculous or enlightening?
As a comment below, write TWO paragraphs about what you think about gendered toys. This comment is DUE at the start time of your next class with me. Please make sure to include your name as it appears on the roll.


  1. Jude Chibuzo Mgbanwunne,

    Consigning the idea that there should be no advertising directed at children; I think that the idea is just ridiculous and lacks common sense. I think so because, regardless of our beliefs, biologically, physiologically, and anatomically boys are different from girls and vice versa. Because of the genetic build of males, young boys have a tendency to like and appreciate toys or products that exuberate energy and adventure. Females on the other hand, are more likely to appreciate products that support and enhance their psychological and physiological wellbeing. Known this, it's important to present to each gender, the products that they will appreciate the most.
    Gendered toys may have a little influence but not a great impact on children’s ideas about their future occupation or profession. Because, boys get to play with high-tech toys at childhood, they may be inclined to pursue a career in science and technology. But this also cannot be entirely true because; having such high-tech products doing ones every bidding can make one lazy and dependent. Though girls play with toys that are less science oriented, I don't believe it will affect their ideas of a possible future profession. This is because, even at a young age, girls know that their toys are nothing but mere play things; as such they don't regard the toys with such high esteem as to let them direct their future endeavors.

  2. Uduak O. Ekpe
    Although the argument that engendered toys affects learning as portrayed in the articles and videos, and my personal experiences tends to differ on several points. As a child growing up, there were boy toys and girl toys. Boys had their comic books, cars and games while girls had their dolls and other interactive, games. This notwithstanding, most of the girls knew as much about comics and cars as did the boys. Also, girls took part in boyish activities like climbing trees, playing cops, and other seemingly masculine activities. In addition, most families allowed their kids to have fun engaging in any suitable game played be it masculine or feminine. As a matter of fact, in my family, the girls wore jeans, climbed trees, raced, and played cops and other such activities with the boys such as mowing the lawn, fixing car tires etc. The boys also dressed themselves sometimes in girl clothes, painted their nails with markers, jumped rope and some of those activities.
    The idea of eliminating adverts for children is strongly justified because parents should be responsible for the education of their kids. Education does not only begin and end in the class room, it extends to everyday learning; how to walk, not to play with fire, playing games, etcetera. Advertising for children could be very troublesome because kids are impressionable and images that appeal to them would lead to fussing and requesting for those items. This item could be one disapproved of by the parent but explaining to the kid why he or she cannot have it would be incomprehensible to the kids.


    A toy advertisement should not be focus on one gender. Yet, in some cases I do not agree that there should not be any advertisement directed towards certain gender. Depending on the child determines what toys they will play with are not. For example, as a child I didn’t always play with the “girlie toys,” I played with the monster trucks, logos, and guns too. However, I do agree that toys that are gendered towards girl require them to do less work. Yes, most girl toys are about popularity, beauty, home-making, and care but what about independence? The female toys lack that ability to teach girl to be more adventurous, daring, and open-minded. It is basically teaches you how to be a house wife. Some children also look at toys in a realistic way, thinking that their life should be based off of that. This may cause girls to assume that everything supposed to come easy to them.
    On the other hand, boy toys might expand there thinking process causing them to be more determined. The advertisement of boy toys does not limit their potential what so ever. If the message about boys and girls toys was mixed up than girls might become more independent while boys may become more caring. On a negative side this may confuse them about their genders causing sexuality problems in the future. Lastly, I feel that there is nothing wrong with the advertisement of gendered toys but they should make girl toys more action packed and self-building than homemaking.

  4. Desmond Fernandez

    Before the child is born he or she has already been preconditioned with gender advertisement. Recall your wife’s, sister’s or daughter’s baby shower. What were the colors of the table cloths, the bottles, the clothing of the awaited baby? Most likely, if the infant was predicted to be a boy, then all the clothes and bottles were blue. Simultaneously with the girl, if the infant was predicted to be a girl, then all the clothes and bottles probably were pink. This is a direct gender advertisement, and it happens before the baby even arrives. Pink is for girls, and blue is for boys. However, is the gender advertisement political correct, and is it even worth it?
    Advertisement directed toward children is okay. Children tend to want everything they see; thus, advertisement can teach the lesson, that you cannot always have everything you want. Regarding the advertisement of engendered toys; they can have an influence on the child, but not all the time the ideal influence. The idea of engendered toys is base on the philosophy that if you give a girl a doll then she’ll grow up to be feminine, and if you give a boy a monster truck then he’ll grow up to be masculine. The idea is that these advertisements of engender toys influences a child’s social development, thus prepare them for the gender specific adulthood.

  5. Leo Wright

    Girls and boys should be able to choose what they enjoy and not be influenced by what television and radio say. Although, we may expect and prefer boys to like boys toys and girls to like girls toys, we also try to teach them to be different and be their own person. I think the best way to do that is not to advertise to a specific gender and let them choose what they enjoy.

    I believe that the audience of girls and boys toys are beginning to balance out and broaden. Boys and girls love all toys. Although some of society may see something wrong with a girl wanting a Hot Wheels track instead of a Barbie Malibu Mansion, that does not mean it is wrong and it will not make the girl not want the race track. The same goes for a boy that would want a doll over a Nerf Gun. Boys and girls are beginning to realize that they like each other’s toys and I think that is a good lesson for children to learn that they do not have to be limited to what media says is boy-like or girl-like.

  6. Generia Vaughn

    I believe that there isn't anything wrong about advertising toys towards children because kids are going to play with what they want to anyway, especially younger children. However, once a child gets older thats when they start to realize what they have intrest in. I believe that advertising toys for specific genders does play a role in a child's life, however not a major one. For instant when a little girl is young she plays with dolls, and when a boy is young he play with trucks. Playing with dolls doesn't involve a lot of dirt and automotives. So while growing up boys and girls go there seperate ways. Girls tend to stay nice and clean, while boys like to play rough and get dirty.
    However, the affect is not major because some girls love to play with trucks and blocks etc. So for some kids, playing with specific toys may affect them and others it may not. That's why I feel as if there isn't anything wrong with advertising.

  7. Cathy Baker

    Gendered toys do not leave much room for kids to become creative and constructive. Not only does it impact kids in this way but it implants certain stereotyped skills into them. Boys and girls should be able to pick whatever toy they want to play with, despite what the media or others believe. By limiting kids this way you hinder and cripple them from striving to be more. Even though some kids are not affected by these advertisements there are still many kids who are.
    Us as a nation need to stop stereotyping and trying to manipulate adolescents and realize we are in an era where your gender doesn't depict what you become. Now we have women becoming engineers, programmers, and etc. Not only that we have men holding jobs that they normally wouldn't and taking on roles women usually had to take on. By encouraging our young people to be more we can grow as a nation, broading their and our horizons.

  8. Shekaydra Green

    The idea that advertisements geared toward children should be made illegal is totally ludicrous. Advertisements have little to no effect on the type of toys that a child likes. Young children learn by example, therefore they learn most about what a female should like and what a male should like from the people in their household. So when a female child sees her mother performing her daily household duties, such as cooking and feeding the baby, she automatically wants to do the same thing. The same goes for males, when a boy sees his father hunting or tinkering with cars he automatically takes a liking to these things because he believes that is what a boy should like to do. This explains why little girls tend to like “baby-dolls” and Easy – Bake Ovens while boys tend to like toy guns and monster trucks.
    Although advertisements may persuade some children, girls will still tend to buy toys that are about nurturing and homemaking and boys will buy toys that are about building and enforcing power because it is what they have learned to like. Eventually when the children grow up and go to school, they will develop their own interests and decide which career path they want to take. As children grow up they will eventually learn that toys are just mere playthings, and they are only for entertainment.

  9. Plenty of things are considered gender appropriate. In these day and ages boys are suppose to play with trucks and bikes; girls are suppose to play with dolls are cooking sets. In modern times this is not how the world works anymore. Women are becoming more independent and are not just homemakers. Besides children should not be advertised toys because they don’t understand the concept and the deception the advertisers are creating.

    Boy toys are more flexible than girl toys because it is okay for girls to play with trucks but unacceptable for boys to play with dolls. These gender appropriate issues continue until adulthood. Many people believe that it is okay to be a lesbian and against moral issues to be a homosexual. America society has many beliefs and is afraid of change. And just because a boy likes dolls and a girl likes to play with trucks doesn’t mean that in the future that child will be a homosexual or a lesbian. All children are different and the future is never certain.

  10. Cenea Taylor
    In our society the toys our children are exposed to are their gender type. The children want to play with toys their age and if they like them. However, the boys want to sometimes play with the girl toys like the easy bake oven, or a few times their dolls and vise versa. It shouldnt matter what type of toys the children play with are exposed to as long as they know their gender and the toys they should be playing with.
    Advertising childrens toys will make the child go out and buy that certain toy. It doesnt matter if its a girl/boy toy because, the child will want to get that specific one if they like it. Also, its really not important if they are advertising a gendered toy because, the children will probably not want or like that toy. Finally, there isnt nothing wrong with the advertising the gendered toys.

  11. Scheleda Grimes

    Some parents think their son should play with toys like Legos, cars, and dinosaurs. They also think their daughter should play with baby dolls, doll houses, and play dress up. To be honest it really does not matter what types of toys they play with. In Erik Erikson stages of development he state stages how children are grow into adulthood. In each stage it specifically states the experiences and personality traits a developing child is to carry while aging. The play age stage which is 3 to 5 years old is a period when the children start playing with toys. He state that it is their desire to play the opposite role sex and play with toys that are of their gendered. It does not mean that they are going to be gay or a lesbian when they grow up. It means they are exploring the world around them. For example the boy plays dress up and dress like their mom because they love and want to take the role like their mom. In this stage it is all about social role identification.
    Personally my 3 year old nephew plays with dolls at times. He still plays with his dinosaurs, and car truck, buzz light year, etc. He knows what Barbie is and he calls Barbie is girlfriend. It is like he is experimenting with the opposite sex. My family allows him to play with dolls. We feel that it is okay. He has a sister who is eight, which is my niece and he sees her play with the dolls and play house and he imitates her because that is his big sister. I am nonchalant about gendered toys, yeah I feel there should be boys and girl toys, but it does not matter what gender plays with type of toys. The toys do influence girls and influence the boys in ways. The girls may grow up wanting to look like Barbie with big breast and a skinny body. The boys want to show their aggressiveness like transformers. It is all a process of developing and growing for a child.

  12. Christine Baker

    Gendered toys have a positive and negative effect on adolescents. Many companies market to girls and boys with specific toys with what they feel they prefer or like. Even though some toys such as building or nursing toys teach good qualities that build children’s skills at a young age, it also limits their imagination on all the possible things they can accomplish. In addition, it also affects the development of adolescent’s priorities, career, and social abilities.
    In most commercialized gendered toys for girls, it teaches girls to focus more house management, beauty, self-image, and domestic work. On the other hand gender toys geared towards boys encourage competition, aggressiveness, fight, and mechanics. This limit kids from developing certain skill for instance due to boys gendered toys they don’t develop a strong ability of reasoning; while girls for instance may not be as advance as boys in the field of science and mechanics. Henceforth, gendered toys can influence both girls and boys careers in the future and social abilities.

  13. Deair Herron

    Direct advertising is something that has been created by society. Children grow up in a society that makes them believe living a certain way is correct. I feel that direct advertising has positive and negative affects. Some toys are made directly for boys and some are made just for girls.

    Boys are taught not to play with girl toys and girls are taught not to play with boys toys. This is a negitive affect of putting gender on toys because children that actually do play with the opposite gender's toys are teased by others. A positive affect of putting gender on toys is that it may help the children learn norms and values that will help them in life. For example, female children have cooking toys. These toys help them prepare for a family in the future.

  14. Myron Lawson

    Obviously, there are toys that are intended for boys and toys that are intended for girls. I do believe that children have the right to play with whatever toys they want. From a sociological standpoint from years ago, it was expected that men go and work at construction sites or other hard labor. Also, men were expected to like wrestling and action. Women were expected to stay at home and care for the family, cook, and clean.

    These stereotypes, I believe, correspond to boys and girls. Boys have toys that are cars or gun toys, like NERF. Girls have toys such as cooking toys and dolls that they are to pretend to take care of. Not every girl will like dolls, and not every boy will like guns and cars. It should be a child’s choice as to what toys they play with.

  15. Shaina Craige

    It can be said that gender socialization begins the moment a child is born and though some may not agree, in most cases it is true. For example, whenever a mother is expecting a boy most colors surrounding his nursery or toys will be blue instead of pink. This is due to the fact that blue is considered a "male" color, while pink is more toward the feminine side. Though this may not be an open minded view, this is how society places things, which is why I agree that children should play with toys selected for their gender because most people in the world today do not have open minds.
    Recently, an article was written about an ad showing a boy with pink toenails. Some said that this was out of character for the child and should not be published. If that boy was also seen playing with a pink doll and using his easy bake oven, much more negative attention would be spread on him. In fact, kids his age or even adults might ridicule him and call him “sissy” or gay. The same will most likely go for a girl if she plays with footballs instead of dolls. Due to the world we live in, I belive that children should stick to playing with toys specified for their gender and parents should stress that they do.

  16. Larrimi Williams

    I strongly believe that there should be no advertising directed to children. In fact, I think that gendered toys and advertising plays a role in influencing the characteristics of what a child may consider appropriate behavior for a boy or girl. This implies to a child that girls should play with Barbie dolls and boys should play with Tonka trucks or toy guns. Such that if a little girl enjoyed playing with her little brother’s toys more than her own she may feel that she’s odd or weird because of highly gendered advertisements. When in retrospective they have the power to choose and should not be influenced by anything or anyone else because they are entitled to their own individualism.

    However, I do not think that the lack of technology, science, and building based- toys has an effect on how girls perform in school but I do think that it affects the performance of boys in school. In my opinion, it diminishes the boys’ potential and makes them less inclined to do their work and it encourages girls to have a mind state that they can do anything boys can do and possibly do it better. Thus, if gendered advertisements were not focused on a particular gender then possibly more girls/boys may want to pursue varied professions instead of gendered society- based occupations.

  17. Alan Shaw Jr.
    Honstly, I feel directing gender based ads towards adolescents is wrong. Although the stereotype is what we expect. We expect woman to cook and clean. We expect guess to build and protect. But, at the end of the day is this right? What about the young lady that wants to build, or the young man who wants to nurture? Society has made it to wear that child would be looked down on as if it was taboo.
    I feel advertising gender based ads hinders the children who want to be different. You may have a young lady who wants to play with hot wheels, but if there surrounded by barbie dolls, then it will shape that childs mind into only like dolls. Yes, we do think of construction workers to be guys and nurses women, but for the few who want to be outside the box. I feel society should not bring them down.

  18. Andrea Trahan

    In my opinion, gender based toys are, in a way, overrated. There are some boy toys that have "girl" characteristics and vice-versa. Society has placed so much emphasis on gender today that it has become a big issue across the world.

    Placing restrictions on which toys are appropriate for what gender is completely redundant because now, all of the toys are made the same. For example, girls are supposed to play with dolls...but there are "action figures" that look like dolls for boys to play with as well. Once again, it's overrated to place a gender restriction on toys.