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I recently read a letter in a magazine to which I subscribe ("net" Issue 252 p8, titled "The Net Awards and Equality"):

... Giving [under represented groups] an opportunity and exposure is important. I have two toddler daughters, and my wife and I try not to push gender-specific toys on them. They both use smartphones...

Anybody have views on this? Are gender-specific toys for toddlers evil? Should toddlers be given smartphones?

Edited by diafol

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There's ample evidence that "gender specific toys" are far from evil, they're natural.

As late as last year there was for example a study where newborns and toddlers were placed in a room and allowed to choose their own toys.
Girls ended up choosing dolls, boys ended up choosing traditional "boy toys" like action figures.
Also, boys were more likely to select blue toys, and girls pink toys, even among newborns that had never been presented with those colours in their environments.

As to smartphones: certainly not. Let children be children and play with child toys.
They don't need smartphones, with all the stuff they can run into on the net (let alone the associated cost).
Children should not have unmonitored internet, certainly not until they're 15 or so years old and know the ropes. And that means no internet access without a parent or teacher sitting next to them.

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I agree no smartphones for toddlers - mostly because I would think any normal toddler would break it rather than use it.

But, gender specific toys as marketing concept is evil. Marketing certain toys to certain genders and urging parents to reinforce these stereotypes is a problem. There is also ample evidence that girls do badly at math because they think 'girls are not good at math' (same for other STEM subjects). I hated most big chain toys stores from a pretty young age (~7 year old) because of the 'pink section' and the knowledge that as a girl I was supposed to want things in the 'pink section' when I really wanted some lego and dinosaurs.

BTW jwenting, what exactly is the difference between a doll and an action figure? they are both representations of people with which the child can act out various activities. Is putting a SWAT vest on a GI Joe fundamentally different than putting a cardigan on a Barbie?

Also FYI a century ago pink was the colour for boys and blue was the colour for girls.

Edited by Agilemind

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There is also ample evidence that girls do badly at math because they think 'girls are not good at math' (same for other STEM subjects).

I'm not sure where that fits in with the OP. I'm not even sure if this is the case anyway. In my high school, I see an even number in my chemistry classes, more girls in biology and more boys in physics. Roughly even in maths.

because they think 'girls are not good at math'

Back to that - I once heard a female teacher boasting to some students, "I was absolutely useless at maths when I was at school". I can just imagine her laughing, "Ha, I can't even read!".

Anyway, that's going well off-topic IMO. So I'm assuming that dolls (male and female) are OK - you can dress them in anything you want, right? So for toddlers, what else is there - evil-wise?

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I think that obviously giving a toddler a smartphone is at your own risk (of getting it broken). I'm not sure they are particularly harmful though. My toddler niece sometimes (rarely) plays with her mommy's smartphone. She would randomly navigate the menus (can't read) until she hits a picture of someone in the family and becomes overjoyed, and quickly navigates randomly to some other menu. I don't see it as particularly educational or anything, but most games toddlers play are kind of like that anyways (doing random stuff and being randomly amused by it). But again, there is a high risk-level for the smartphone (breaking it, messing up the settings, etc..). I think it can't really hurt too much for the toddler to handle a smartphone (never too young to get acquainted with tech.), but it shouldn't be a big part, and it never is, cause it's kind of a boring toy for a toddler.

That's my 2 cents.

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Dear technocrats,

Im a physical therapist, who is running a SaaS specific rto PT's, my site is www.physioplustech.com, Im new here and this forum is very useful for me to understand IT.

Coming to the posts, Im glad I can answer here as an expert, Researches confirm that kids should be kept aways from smartphone and other visual gadgets atleast until the age of 6. they should be kept out of TV until age 2.

In these stages human brain are not fully developed, and they grow by the proces of learnbing from the environment, the flat images ad the ranmdom movements can indeed retard the growth of the Brain for these kids.

So Apart from your Smartphones safety, consider the kids health too.

thank you

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As a side note relating to gender differences, newborns, once they start to respond to visual stimuli, show gender specific traits. Boys, generally, are more attentive and responsive to mobiles while girls are more responsive and attentive to faces.

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I'm not sure where that fits in with the OP. I'm not even sure if this is the case anyway. In my high school, I see an even number in my chemistry classes, more girls in biology and more boys in physics. Roughly even in maths.

Gender-specific toys are one of the first things teaching children stereotypical gender-roles which stick with them for the rest of their lives. 'boys toys' are generally mechanical vehicles, toys for building things (eg. lego, kinex), weapons, and dolls doing male-associated jobs (fire-fighters, police officers, etc..), monsters. While 'girls toys' are about cooking, housework, shopping/fashion, caring for cute animals/babies. Thus teaching the 'boys do sciency or adventurous jobs' and 'girls are housewives' stereotype . Similarly the gender-specific advertising sets up these stereotypes even without the parents buying them.

Individually the toys aren't evil but only exposing a girl to 'girl-toys' or a boy to 'boy-toys' is evil, a child should be given to opportunity to play with all different kinds of toys until they are old enough to ask for the kinds of toys they want.

Here is a more eloquent explanation.

Boys, generally, are more attentive and responsive to mobiles while girls are more responsive and attentive to faces.

Gender-specific toys is not about whether there is a slight bias in the interests of males and females. Gender-specific toys is about society saying:
"You are a girl therefore you MUST like Barbie, you MUST like pink, you MUST want to play take care of babies otherwise if you like playing with lego or pretending to be hero then you are a weirdo and not a proper girl"
and
"You are a boy you MUST like playing with guns, you MUST like blue, you MUST want to pretend to be a hero, if you show any interest in playing with baby-dolls or playing house or cooking then you are weirdo and not a proper boy"

Edited by Agilemind

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"Action figure" is only a marketing term used to sell dolls to boys.

uh, I see precious few girls interested in GI Joe play sets, and very few healthy boys fooling around with Barbie dolls wearing pink dresses...

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uh, I see precious few girls interested in GI Joe play sets, and very few healthy boys fooling around with Barbie dolls wearing pink dresses...

You've just demonstrated how insidious the enforcement of gender-roles can be for boys. You imply that if a boy were to wear a dress or play with a doll you would think there is something wrong with them. However, you would probably consider the reverse - a girl who hates dresses and likes playing football - much more acceptable.

Consider this

Secondly, since gender-roles are currently imposed from birth how could you know if more girls would be interested in GI Joe? By the time kids can talk to ask for the toys they want they will have been exposed to years of gender-biased behaviour, attitudes, toys etc.. There are >200,000 women in active military service in the USA do you really think none of them would have been interested in playing with toy soldiers/action figures?

Edited by Agilemind

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nope, just stating facts.

I'm dead against forcing "gender neutral" anything. Let the children choose themselves, rather than force boys to be girls and girls to be boys for the sake of political correctness.
Which is the entire meaning of the "gender neutral" idiocy, examplified by the couple that forces their son to wear dresses for half the day because they consider him to be genderless...

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what exactly is the difference between a doll and an action figure? they are both representations of people with which the child can act out various activities. Is putting a SWAT vest on a GI Joe fundamentally different than putting a cardigan on a Barbie?

OK, let's compromise and put Barbie in full on SWAT gear. And what GI Joe does in his downtime is his own business these days.

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uh, I see precious few girls interested in GI Joe play sets...

That's the point I was making. If they had tried to sell them as G.I. Joe "dolls" they probably wouldn't have done as well. By rebranding them as "action figures" they make them appear more manly then if they had called them dolls.

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Nobody can deny that male and female are different, so a gender equality will never exist. When I was 4-5 years old I played with dolls but also with little plastic soldiers(GI Joe had to be invented) among other things. My parents never said: "Here are dolls, PLAY! GENDER EQUALITY RULES!"
I don't know why I played with dolls, perhaps it helped me later, when I had to change the diapers of my daughter! The soldiers did not turn me into a war seeking person. The dolls and the soldiers where just FUN to play with. It should be that way for every child, be it male or female. The only equality that should be and still isn't is that genders should have equal rights!

Edited by ddanbe: addition

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I'm dead against forcing "gender neutral" anything. Let the children choose themselves, rather than force boys to be girls and girls to be boys for the sake of political correctness.

No that's not what "gender neutral" means. Gender neutral means having toys come in a variety of colours - not just pink or just blue. It means having ads where children of both genders are playing with the toy. It means grouping toys by type not by gender in stores (science toys, building toys, dolls/action figures, ridable toys, remote-controlled toys etc..). It means having GI-Jane to go with GI-Joe and Ken to go with Barbie. It means letting your children wear and play with whatever they want regardless of their gender.

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I also played with dolls momentarily as an infant (4-7 or so). I never really played with GI Joes, although I did like to play with TMNTs. But I mostly played with legos and playmobil (which is very gender-neutral). I think to each his own, and parents need to be flexible.

I have mixed feelings about the whole gender-neutrality thing (as Agilemind describes it). Whether gender preferences (e.g., girls like dolls, boys like trucks / action figures) are innate or acquired (most likely a mix of both) is not all that relevant to me. Part of growing up is learning to socialize, and part of socializing is having common interests (i.e., "fitting in"). And in that sense, wanting your child to develop interests ascribed to their particular gender is part of wanting that child to fit in well with other children of the same gender and make friends and all that. As one parent (pair), you can't change the fact that other kids will have gender-biased upbringings and therefore, there is a similar expectation on your child's upbringing, so that he/she fits in with other kids. As such, I don't necessarily see it as a conservative-values issue of wanting to impose traditional gender roles.

But then again, there needs to be room for individuality, and flexibility on the part of the parents. If the child seems to like some things that are somewhat non-traditional for his/her gender, then let it be so, and foster whatever interests seem to make your child happier.

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I've found this very interesting. Although I like to think of myself as somebody who takes 'equality', gender and otherwise very seriously, I also have doubts about gender-neutrality with regard to a number of things. Neutrality does not necessarily mean equality. Also neutrality IMO is pretty subjective - we can call things neutral, but it doesn't really make them so. Who decides if something is neutral anyway? Nurture and nature, as Mike suggests, are probably responsible for a kid's interests and preferences, so we may be needlessly demonizing certain things.

This as AM suggests, may have wider implications with regard to things like education. Biology tends to attract more females in our school than Physics (more boys). OMG! Both subject leaders are failing in their duties to make the subjects equally attractive to both sexes! Did you know that we even get measured (%differences) and get chewed out by county administrators if we diverge from their 'norms'. I remember having a very small class one year with only 10 students (4 girls, 6 boys) - county went berserk - nothing to do with having just 10 students! They insisted that I write an action plan to resolve the issue. Heh!

So where does this leave us? I wear pink shirts and I kissed a guy once. Admittedly, I was paralytically drunk, but, it remains, these are so far removed from my gritty, mining village upbringing, it's unbelieveable.

Are we saying that none of those women soldiers (200K??) had Barbies and stuff when they were young? By some people's reasoning, they can't have otherwise, they'd have ended up like downtrodden housemats with no ambition and with no confidence.

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With respect to traditional gender roles being 'natural' I would point to this study which shows 68% of women report being tomboys when they were young.

Edited by Agilemind

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Tomboy behaviour from 6-13 so the study says. This is despite being exposed to "girly" things as toddlers. So does it make a difference? I'm a little lost to the point of it all. I'm in no way advocating that female toddlers must have pink things and dolls, or pink dolls and boy toddlers mock cut-throat razors and cap guns, but I'm not seeing the relevance. Tomboy girls stop being tomboys at age 13, in fear of growing a penis, no doubt. Eewww.

Edited by diafol

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I'm pretty liberal so 'gender neutrality' I'm like ... 'meh' who cares. However, I think it gets a bit ridiculous when parents force their son to wear a dress for half the day to highlight their apparent tolerance for gender neutrality. Now if their son wanted to wear a dress, then that's another matter entirely and should be treated as such.

In the end, whatever he/she wants to do he/she will end up doing. It's been proven that no amount of commercial advertising or up-bringing has any effect at swaying a kid's choices.

Diafol it surprises me that you have worn a pink shirt, kissed a man. Your mannliness has dropped a notch. LOL.

Next thing you'll be telling me you spend most of your time on a purple forum. Aww shucks... I do the same. ;)

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uh, [...] and very few healthy boys fooling around with Barbie dolls wearing pink dresses...

I must confess I fooled around with my sister's Barbie dolls when I was younger. Although for much difference reasons. I wanted to look up their skirts ha.

Edited by iamthwee

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