Many researchers (especially Einsiedler (1990:123-139) and Kline (1993)) discuss declarations in relation to play and rules.
There is also earlier research in this area: George H. Mead (1968) and Kohlberg (1974), etc.
More recent research in this area (including Smetana (1981:1336), Christie & Johnsen (1985) and especially Arsenio (1988:1611-1622)) covers children’s moral development in relation to attitudes to breaking rules and conventions in play. It is therefore important to take this aspect into account when evaluating toys’ significance for the child’s development through play (says Einsiedler). He lists eight points for evaluating toys including declarations. In the same way as UNESCO has declarations on teaching and literature, there ought to be useful declarations about toys and play.
In Europe there are approximately 2500 toy manufacturers and factories, producing and distributing a colossal variety of products.
Idealistic and humanist manufacturers who work with responsible product development and who demonstrate real responsibility in their work, are powerless in the face of cynical competitors who distribute products which are poor/dangerous in terms of product development and which can communicate “dehumanist” or destructive attitudes.
A basic declaration about toys formulated in connection with the research for this book stated:
- A toy may not adversely exploit a child’s natural credulity or a young person’s lack of experience, nor may it abuse their loyalties.
- A toy must not contain utterances or any visual form which might cause psychological, moral or physical damage to a child/young person.
We can of course also distinguish between:
- traditional toys and
- “craze” toys
- activity materials (hobbymaterials) and
- teachingmaterial and learning aids.
Good toys and good instruments are important elements in stimulating children’s growth and development and therefore the development of good toys is important. The intention of ordinary development of good toys is:
- to manifest the toy’s ordinary play concepts and
- to strengthen general knowledgeand consciousness of toys and play with toys.
These intentions are manifested through:
- describing the thoughts and mechanisms the toy encourages in the child
- adding knowledgeabout the toy and its significance for play and development generally
- indicating the incredible existential valuesand qualities which the individual toy can bring to the play and the life of the child.
If a toy is particularly well-suited for use as teaching material or if it can be characterised as a good “learning aid”, it can, according to Retter(1984), be classified as:
- role play, social-emotional play and play types
- types of gameswith rules
- constructions, system toys and units (gestalt forms)
- types of learninggames as methodical/didactic material
- picture books, educational texts, gamesas learning tasks, professional literature
Today, several of these types of games can (apart from being traditional) also be technological and electronic. In their original form, toys are copies of adult instruments.
Useful toy copies of newly developed technological and electronic instruments and tools will always be made - and technological and electronic toys can be both a toy and a learning aid.
Many of the new technological and electronic toys are however “craze” toys with a short lifetime - a parallel to the situation in industry which is constantly developing new and better technological and electronic instruments as a supplement or replacement for existing ones.
The investigations in this book will give an unequivocal recognition of respect for technological and electronic toys by indicating the areas in which these toys can contribute qualitatively to children’s lives and play in many different ways.
The book takes issue against:
manufacturers who produce electronic games and technical toys which flagrantly breach the principles of the UN Declaration of Human Rights by designing and constructing games that degrade and humiliate people on grounds of their sex, race or culture.
One particularly vulnerable group - socially very isolated children in certain types of families - do not develop sufficient linguistic skills due to a monotonous and exaggerated use of video/technological games. Several scientific investigations have found that there are now children with problems of this kind only in the West. There are only small numbers of such children and they were vulnerable from the start.