During my visit to Hamleys I was particularly shocked by the section for babies and young children. A large portion of this section was taken up with electric gadgets for young children. These gadgets are versions of laptops, watches, tablets etc with games on them to encourage the learning of letters, numbers, colours and other things like that. A lot of the gadgets like this that Hamleys stock are from a company called Vtech. Many of the Vtech products that I looked at were designed to be used by children from a very early age and most of them are either pink or blue.
Introducing colour to children from a young age is very important for their development and this is why children’s toys are often produced in bright, bold colours. So really, producing toys in pink and blue has two potential problems, firstly that the shades used are often pastel and not primary, and secondly that young children are often encouraged to associate themselves with one of two particular colours and are not encouraged to explore the wide range of colour that is available.
Several examples of the lack of primary colours could be seen, I have chosen one to illustrate my point. On a shelf of soft toys, the type that are given to a baby at birth there was a soft toy of the rabbit character, Miffy. Miffy features in picture books for very young children written by Dick Bruna. She is usually depicted in bright primary colours, this toy was pink.
An extra point that I will make here is that it really doesn’t matter whether a toy is blue or pink as long as it entertains and educates a child in someway, after all, that is the purpose of toys. They are not to teach you that you have a place in society that doesn’t really exist.
I think that the Vtech issue is one that Hamleys would do well to look into. It is actually a bit silly that they stock such sexist items considering that their own brand is fairly equal and balanced. Another problem with these sexist items is that they teach children that there are many barriers between girls and boys. There are of course differences between the two genders, but these should be taught so that children understand them and understand that they are merely differences and not things that should prevent us from talking and being friends with members of the other sex.