“Boy” Toys are More Educational than “Girl” Toys
Even with the progress that has been made in equality of the sexes, and even among the children of my most right-on, feminist friends, little boys play with trucks and little girls play with dollies.
I wonder if there’s some truth to the stereotype of boys liking cars and girls liking dolls. My son first encountered a toy truck at about 6 months. It captivated him so much that it was all he played with for a week. His first “words” were brrm brrm. My 9-month-old daycare baby girl ignores trucks but loves to look at dolls and toy animals.
This might be from parents consciously or unconsciously buying gender specific toys, but maybe that’s not the whole story. In 2005, researchers studying baby monkeys found that girl monkys preferred dolls and soft toys, and boy monkeys preferred cars.
Back in the 1970’s, researchers studied the tendency for boys to play with cars and girls to play with dolls. They found that the way girls played with their toys helped them learn about communication, empathy, and helped them develop emotional literacy. The way boys played with trucks and blocks helped them learn technical skills.
Both skills sets are valuable, but as just about anyone who has tried to talk to their man knows, knowing how to change a tire is not very useful when talking about a relationship or an emotional issue. And even though most women are better at communicating than men, it doesn’t help much when you run over a nail with your car when you went out without your cellphone and have no idea what to do. Our sons and daughters need both skill sets.
And the latest study on gender bias in toys has worrying results. Toys marketed to girls have considerably less educational value than toys marketed to boys. While girl toys are great for learning about emotions and communication, for and encouraging creative, imaginative play, that’s just about all they do. There’s a much wider range of boy toys, and they teach literacy, technical skills, problem solving, as well as creative play.
So perhaps for your little one’s birthday, consider a dolly for your son, or some blocks for your daughter?