This post is not age-appropriate, just like your kid’s toys.
By- Dr. Ankit Sharma
Disclaimer: Following is a work of (mostly) fiction paired with borderline senseless opinion. There is a reason the author is not a pediatrician or a child psychologist or an Instagram Dad Influencer’. Hence the following should only be considered as food-for-thought at best or incoherent background noise at worst.
I should either be full of gratitude to my parents, or should feel lucky that I grew up OK (up for debate) as there were no ‘Mom Bloggers’ when I was growing up. Hence, I can only imagine the trial-and-error method my parents employed while raising me.
But not now! After the advent of humanity-altering technique of Google search combined with the art of Ctrl+C Ctrl+V, anyone can become a parent influencer. You can become one too by following the scientific formula called “Read more in caption and click on the link in bio. Use my coupon code SELLINGMYSOUL100 for a discount.”
Such altruistic and selfless personalities have marked a new era of
salesmanship influencing where they, among distributing other ‘guidelines’, also advocate the use of ‘age-appropriate’ toys for your children, and that’s what this post is about. There are many advantages of buying these toys, and probably some of them are meant for your child as well.
WHO defines age-appropriate toys as “Duh! It’s self-explanatory, you doofus”. Ideally, we would expect common sense and parental instinct to guide on what would be an age-appropriate toy for a child, but the new-age bloggers have two important qualifications that makes them the authority over such decisions:
1. They are parent(s) themselves.
2. They have more followers on Instagram than you.
As a result, you can see them
advertise vouch for certain brands that make such toys, which claim that these toys ‘boost’ your child’s skills and brain development, you know, things that ordinary parenting aspects like adequate nutrition and friendly environment fail to do. Some of the salient feature of such toys are:
- They are shiny, sometimes too shiny – so that they can catch the eye of your child, and also of the camera on Mangalyaan.
- They come in particular shapes that help your child to grasp, so you need to be grateful to these brands for inventing shapes like sphere and cuboid and cylinders.
- They are ‘ergonomically’ designed and have actual feelings of their own. If you don’t make an unboxing reel for Instagram, they get hurt.
I used to think that selecting toys for kids only meant to omit unsafe toys, you know, the paint which could give your family lead poisoning or sharp, possibly hurtful objects, like avoiding gifting them a porcupine as a pet animal. Rest, kids are best known for being kids, for you give them whatever-appropriate toys you want, they will throw them on the ground after exactly two minutes of fiddling and then proceed to put a spoon inside their ears or use their own fingers to poke themselves in the eyes.
Yet, the marketing team and influencers want you to believe that by giving these toys to your children, they would have understood E=mc2 by the age of 3 and would be actively cruising towards a breakthrough for cancer cure by the age of 5, while perfecting cursive English with both hands and solving out Rubik’s cube using only their feet by the age of 7 – around which Byju’s will knock at your door and demand to teach your kids coding in their pre-pre-pre-foundation course – or else all that parenting would amount to nothing.
So, while I do believe in Age-appropriateness of anything that the children lay their hands upon, I do believe brands and influencers are doing what they need to – induce guilt in parents that their child is “not getting the best”.
So, my age-appropriate advisory usually tells you what NOT to do, rather than what to do. For example, do not buy your kid an expensive Lego set thinking that it will turn them into mini Elon Musks, unless they are capable of cleaning the mess of those blocks that they would definitely be making, or you are someone who’s weirdly into tripping over small objects in the night. I suggest that you save that money and spend it on baby-proofing your house instead so that your children don’t open the table drawer on their forehead and then don’t close it on their fingers.
My final argument is that such (and other ‘educational’) toys are drab and boring. If the government still allows them to be marketed, they should come with a statutory warning:
“These toys may make your child grow up into an obnoxious or boring personality, like a Golfer or a Bigg Boss fan or a bird-watcher. Or a humor writer.”
That’s all I ask for.