Toys are the best friends of young children and they play a major role in shaping their lives. They stimulate imagination, cognitive skills, decision making and social skills. Toys are also one of those things which are highly gendered. There are separate girls toys and boys toys available in any toy store. One might consider toys to be androgynous but visit any toy store and you would have separate sections for girls toys and boys toys sometimes even separate floors. The packages convey the difference either through their colour or image and text descriptions.

Boys mostly prefer vehicles, machinery and construction toys while girls have a tendency to buy toys which have a feminine touch like beauty, nurturing and care taking toys. Studies conducted on monkeys (the rhesus variety) show that the male monkeys tend to play more with wheeled toys and the female with plush toys. This cross – species example shows that the sexually varying toy preferences stem out of basic neurobiological factors and are not solely due to socialisation. Girls toys are mostly in purple and pink colours and the closest to the educational toy for girls is Dora the explorer. Even the robot called Keep on designed for girls talks two little phrases which say “I live for weekends” and “you look fabulous”. It stresses on the fact that predominantly these toys follow the Barbie line, stressing on looking good and having some fun. On the other hand boys toys has no colour restrictions and all possible colours are used, with the so called “girlish colours” being minimally used. Most of boys toys are action heroes like Ben 10, Bay blades and many other such toys.

So why is this different in tastes? Well! Part of it can be blamed on socialising patterns but as explained earlier there are some biological reasons too. Parents have some pre conceived notions as to which toy a boy or girl would prefer to play and get them toys in the same line. The children grow up playing with them and the trend continues as they grow older. Iam sure you wouldn’t gift your 3 year old son a Barbie doll and your 4 year old daughter a monster truck. This is the sort of notions that is reflected in the toy industry and supported by the social group surrounding your child.

While there is no specific harm in having separate toys for boys and girls, children should be encouraged to pursue their own imaginations. Loading their mind with gender differences at a very early age is not advisable. Their perceptions should not be restricted by society’s notion of specific toys for specific genders. While having separate boys toys and girls toys can benefit the toy industry and hence their efforts in promoting gender specific toys, parents should be well advised not to follow this stereotype gender differentiation in toys. Instead allow the child to play with generic toys that are not branded for any gender and give them a free reign to pursue their imagination.

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