In the New York Times this Sunday, Gary Cross, a professor of history at Pennsylvania State University, pens a breathtakingly confusing op-ed on the dangers of, not only outsourcing toy manufacturing, but allowing "licensed toys" (Dora, Barbie, etc...) from being introduced to our children. "Young people" just haven't developed the critical judgment necessary to, gulp, deal with "consumerism." Like any good paternalist, Cross uses a scare (the recent Mattel recall, in this case) to kick things off. We quickly jump to commercials.
....In the early 1970s, child advocates like Action for Children's Television recognized that television ads for toys had a magical power over children. They tried to ban these commercials to give parents, not toy companies, control over the desires of their offspring. In 1978, Michael Pertschuk, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, argued that ads appealing to young children were inherently "unfair."
"Unfair"? So then it's a great life lesson for kids. Cross believes it's time to rethink our decision to "allow" advertising and cartoon promotion of toy lines "that has produced year-round marketing and piles of plastic toys, bought and soon discarded." Magical powers, you see, can be used for evil.
After all, we ought to be just as concerned about the impact of character licensing and toy advertising on our children's psyche as we are on protecting them from ingesting leaded paint and magnets.
Actually I don't even know Professor Cross, so "we" don't have any say in my kids toy selection. My daughter's Dora doll is hardly as dangerous as lead paint on either an emotional or physical level. The thing is, parents are already free to restrict their children from watching television and from buying licensed toys. In fact, with the technology most American children need not watch any commercials by using (Tivo) and tuning in Noggin. Do I need George Bush or Harry Reid to help? No.
Moreover, though I have no idea why a non-licensed toy would be any less harmful to children, I can, still purchase such toys at any Toys R Us. No, it's not always easy for a parent to say no to child, but (and I'm no parenting specialist) exhibiting some self-control and delayed gratification are both key in raising a successful child. Or more important, at the very least, then another federal intrusion on parenting.