Toys within the technological environment




Toys as:


a machine                      rationality

determinism                   cosmos

self-control                     variables

autonomy                       complexity/composition

organism                        environment

computer                        miniaturised/model

video game





The toy contributes to creating control

over uncertainty, control over Fate


Play ideologies used:

- irrationality

- newness


According to Sutton-Smith, the toy contributes to creating control over uncertainty - control over “Fate”.

As described in the section concerning the toy as an object, the hypothesis is motivated by 17th century philosophy’s ideas about toys and technology, i.e. the idea that an automatic machine is a model for Man’s autonomy, individuality and development. At the same time, the machine represents a threat to Man’s liberty because it is stronger and more powerful than he is.

At the end of the 20th century, the electronic and technical aspect of modern toys (both electromechanical and purely mechanical) is fast becoming extremely sophisticated.

Toys are being filled with signal and control functions which are meant to echo reality. In addition, many toys can be remote-controlled either by means of a hand-held control unit or via a personal computer. Children take all this for granted while many adults, failing to understand these developments, view the situation with horror.

Electronics is no longer merely an element which streamlines and simplifies the use of these implements. No, it is purely and simply for entertainment!

Sutton-Smith calls this “the Frankenstein paradox” which has worried childhood romantics for more than two hundred years.

Socially-engaged and well-educated parents and the experts continue to play the role of childhood romantics when they protest against the latest products, the newest examples of determinism.

They claim that children’s play and their imaginations are threatened by mechanical and electronic toys, certain TV programmes, video games and guardian dolls. These toys also enrich children’s play and imagination with new and imaginative opportunities.

In my opinion, some published works, such as Phillips (1986) Turmoil in the Toy Box and West (1988) Children, Culture and Controversy, Dixon (1990) Playing Them False, Stern & Schoenhaus (1990) Toyland  and partly also Kline (1993) Out of the Garden, have cultivated public fear. In fact, to some extent, these books have formed a pessimist crusade against electronic toys, video games and large sectors of the rest of the toy industry.



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