When toys talk, Mom doesn’t

Talking toys may be bad for babies and toddlers, writes Cory Turner on NPR. Parents talk less when toys talk more, according to a new study in JAMA Pediatrics. And young children need to interact with a human to learn language.

Children between 10 and 16 months old were fitted with microphones.

Books and traditional toys, such as blocks and a shape sorter, stimulated the most high-quality conversation, says Anna Sosa, a Northern Arizona University professor who ran the study.

When kids played with the electronic toys — a “talking farm,” a “baby cellphone” and a “baby laptop” — parents and children communicated less. “When there’s something else that’s doing some talking, the parents seem to be sitting on the sidelines and letting the toy talk for them and respond for them,” she says.

“Back-and-forth conversation” with a parent or caregiver is crucial to developing language, writes Aaron Loewenberg on Ed Central.

‘Insanely dangerous’ toys of the past

From The Federalist‘s 8 Insanely Dangerous Toys From The Past:

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The Gilbert Chemistry Outfit included “potassium permanganate, which, besides being poisonous, has been known to make things catch fire,” and ammonium nitrate, which can be used to make bombs, writes Jason Stevens.

The manual “taught kids how to create explosions with gunpowder — on the first page — and the sole safety feature consisted of a single line telling them not to attempt the same experiment on a larger scale … which only served the purpose of informing kids that this was a possibility.”

The Atomic Energy Lab “came with real samples of uranium (which is radioactive) and radium (which is a million times more radioactive than uranium),” writes Stevens.

The manual described experiments that required handling blocks of dry ice. Dry ice “has a temperature of minus 109.3 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s recommended that it only be handled while wearing gloves (none were included).”

How parents use Lego

Lego is the biggest toy company in the world, writes Jonathan Ringen on Fast Company. The Danish company has found “a clear distinction between American and European parents,” researcher Anne Flemmert-Jensen says.

American parents don’t like play experiences where they have to step in and help their kids a lot. They want their kids to be able to play by themselves. We see among European parents, it’s okay to sit on the floor and spend time with the kids.

The pink- and purple-accented Lego Friends, designed to attract girls, is designed for role playing, writes Ringen. By contrast, boys like a strong narrative. “Boy-focused lines like Ninjago and Legends of Chima . . .  come with almost comically detailed backstories,” he writes. Both boys and girls like to build.

Lego, you are dead to me, writes Molly Wood. Once kids “grew up happily constructing elaborate vehicles, castles, cities, and imaginary lands.” Now they’re asked to buy increasingly expensive sets.

Onion: Serial killers didn’t get toy on store trip


Most serial killers were denied a toy in childhood when visiting a store with their parents, reports The Onion. Even one toy denial may trigger violent impulses, said forensic psychologist Edgar Pruitt. “John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, the Green River Killer—these were all people who did not get the toys or games they wanted. So as a parent, you have to ask yourself if the $15 you save by not purchasing Legos or a Spider-Man figurine is worth the potentially dozens of innocent lives your child might one day brutally take.”

Young girls who were told they had to eat their dinner before they could have dessert all went on to become mothers who drowned their own children in the bathtub.

A few of my favorite things

In Toy Stories: Photos of Children from Around the World and Their Favorite Things, Gabriele Galimberti shows what boys and girls in 58 countries consider their most prized possessions.

When a box of sunglasses fell off a truck in a poor Zambian village, the “plastic eyewear immediately become their favorite — their only — toys,” reports Brain Pickings. They play “market,” “buying” and “selling” the prized toys to each other.

Maudy, 3 (Kalulushi, Zambia)


Pavel, 5 (Kiev, Ukraine)

School holds toy gun exchange

A California elementary school is holding a toy gun exchange, offering students a book and a chance to win a bicycle if they turn in their play weapons, reports the Hayward Daily Review.

Strobridge Elementary Principal Charles Hill sees toy guns as a gateway to the real thing. “Playing with toys guns, saying ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ desensitizes them, so as they get older, it’s easier for them to use a real gun,” Hill said.

A police officer will demonstrate bicycle and gun safety, a fire crew will discuss fire safety and parents will be offered fingerprinting and photographing of their children.

New threat: Talking about Nerf guns

It’s bad enough when little kids are kicked out of school for bubble shooters, cap guns, gun-shaped pastry and Lego guns, etc. In Washington state, a 6-year-old was suspended for talking about the Nerf guns his family had bought on a recent trip. A classmate told the teacher that Noah had a gun with him. Even when it was clear he did not, he was suspended for a “threat.”

(Mike) Aguirre said he and his wife were told their son was suspended for talking about guns at school, and because the girl who reported him felt her “health and safety were threatened” when they were called to the school last week. Officials said the issue is addressed in the district’s discipline handbook in the section on student rights and responsibilities.

But Aguirre said there’s no provision that students are prohibited from talking about guns at school, nor did the district provide evidence that the boy threatened to harm a student.

After meeting with the parents, district officials downgraded Noah’s suspension to a “disruption.”

Via Legal Insurrection, which also links to the many recent cases of zero tolerance for common sense.

Persecuting boys for being boys is “a kind of quasi-religious fanaticism,” writes Glenn Harlan Reynolds in USA Today. “I think it’s about the administrative class — which runs the schools with as little input from parents as possible — doing its best to exterminate the very idea of guns. It’s some sort of wacky moral-purity crusade.”

Play TSA! It’s fun — and educational

For everyone who traveled over the holidays, here are reviews of the Playmobil Security Checkpoint.

I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger’s shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger’s scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said “that’s the worst security ever!”. But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital. The best thing about this product is that it teaches kids about the realities of living in a high-surveillence society.

Another reviewer thinks “this toy would be a lot more realistic with about 350 people standing in line for an average of an hour.”

A third adds:

Thank you Playmobil for allowing me to teach my 5-year old the importance of recognizing what a failing bureaucracy in a ever growing fascist state looks like. . . . Just the other day he asked me why we had to forfeit so much of our liberties and personal freedoms and I had to answer “well, it’s because the terrorists have already won.”

It’s a real toy, though it’s been off the market for five years now.

Via Instapundit.

San Francisco may order ‘sad meals’

San Francisco may ban “happy meals” that come with a toy, unless the meal includes a serving of fruit and vegetables or meets the city’s nutritional requirements, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

San Francisco’s “sad meals” should include “creepy, insulting and/or humiliating promotional toys with any meal that fails to meet the city’s exacting nutritional guidelines,” writes Zombie on Pajamas Media.

* Circular metallic stickers featuring a frowny-face and the words “I’m a fatso!” or “Lard-butt.” Parents will be required to affix the stickers to their children’s foreheads during meals eaten in public.

* Wind-up toys which speak any of ten different phrases, including “You’re morbidly obese!”, “Sure, keep stuffing your fat little face,” and “You make me sick, you disgusting pig!” Children can choose either the Sinister Clown, Nagging Granny, or Scary Bully designs.

* Miniature flipbooks featuring full-color photos of actual surgical procedures taken during heart bypass operations and liposuction sessions.

* A new line of collectible figurines called Chubbies, with names such as Friendless Fritz, Diabetic Debbie, and Acne Ashly.

Very few children eat most of their meals at fast-food restaurants. Obesity begins at home. Parents have to stop buying junk food — often for themselves — and start pushing fruit and veg.

Old toys as art

Mom threw out your old toys? Artist Allen Innman creates nostalgia on canvas, writes If It’s Hip, It’s Here:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_zqFoq3qej2c/TIRBy9dLsbI/AAAAAAABgF4/wtNpM_MdXis/s1600/cowboys-and-indians.jpg