We bought a big box of Play-Doh last week so my 8-year-old son could make a visual aid for his book report.
In the process of creating his characters, which included a mouse, my two daughters, 7 and 11, joined in and helped him mold his props.
For several days, it seemed they were each engaged and entertained with turning a piece of flat clay into something three-dimensional and imaginary.
The project reminded me that simple pleasures, or toys in this case, remain the best pleasures.
I’d stopped buying Play-Doh and other more traditional toys in favor of the much more commercialized and louder electronic games and high-tech toys so readily available.
Barbie dolls, stuffed animals and toy trucks are hidden in the back of my children’s closets.
Many of their older toys have fallen prey to electronic and technology-loaded games and toys, which account for two-thirds of the total toy market, according to American Demographics.
My 7-year-old rarely plays with her Barbie house and dolls. I usually have to remind her to pull them out, but once she gets into it, she’s combing hair, speaking in pretend voices and inviting Barbie’s friends into her play kitchen and living room.
As much as I’d like to keep her attention on playing dollhouse, my daughters still prefer playing games on their E-tablets, or making recordings and taking pictures on their MP3 players and laptops.
My son is caught up in the technology toy wave as well. For weeks he’d begged us for a portable DVD player, the type he’d watched a couple of his friends brag about. When he got a toy truck instead — my idea — he said a quick ‘thank you,’ frowned at the truck, pushed it around for a couple of minutes and later pulled out his old hand-held video game.
Several months later, his grandfather gave him a small laptop and my son hasn’t put it down since.
This trend is not altogether uncommon.
According to “The Future of Play,” a report released by Mattel in 2006, children are more interested in technology-based entertainment, electronic and video games. Many kids are asking their parents for iPads and cell phones rather than stuffed animals and trucks, the report said.
Mattel, the largest toy manufacturing company, has felt its target market — children — shrink and seen sales decline of Barbie products.
In the ’70s, I think I pleaded for every Barbie doll that sparkled. My sole electronic toys were a record player and a cassette player.
Times were simpler then, and electronic gadgets hadn’t carved the path they have today.
According to Toy Industry Information, children are “getting older younger,” and traditional toys are becoming outdated quicker.
My oldest daughter received her first school laptop last week, and she already knows how to navigate it like a pro.
Still, I’m excited that I can pull out a can of Play-Doh and remind my children and myself that old fashioned, traditional toys can still create fun times and inspire their imaginations and my own.
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.