Sunday, December 19, 2010

10 Toys I Would Never Buy 2010

Over the summer, my husband and I did some shopping at Target on a few occasions, to use some of the gift cards we received as wedding gifts. While there, I saw the Jacob Barbie doll below, and it got me thinking about the toys children play with - and how some toys encourage unhealthy or inappropriate lifestyles.

While none of the following ten toys are in any particular order, there are various reasons I think they are inappropriate for children. I hope that parents, grandparents, and others who are shopping for the kids in their lives are wise in their gift choices this Christmas.

The Jacob (from Twilight) Barbie Doll
I have to admit, I am not involved or interested in the Twilight craze, at all. I saw the first film with my parents and sister, but that is it. Probably due to this, I think having a Jacob Barbie doll at all is, well... really weird. But the thing that was appalling to me is that it seemed as though this doll was being marketed directly to children.

This doll (along with the other Twilight movie Barbie dolls) was on a shelf about 3 feet high - which seemed to me a shelf height that would intrigue 7-year-olds, and not the 16+-year-olds who actually read the Twilight series. It was also part of a display that did not have higher shelves.

Yes, Twilight is a part of pop-culture right now. But no, a half-naked male doll is not appropriate for an innocent 7-year-old girl (...or anyone else. Really, what's an older girl/woman really going to do with the doll...? I'm afraid to make any guesses...). The books and movies are not even directed at children.

The Barbie Video Girl Doll
Mattel, you have really made some strange manufacturing choices lately, haven't you? To be honest, I really enjoyed playing with Barbie dolls as a child, so this is nothing against normal Barbie dolls. However, I do not think a doll that takes videos is a good idea. Perhaps it inspires creativity in aspiring movie directors, but aren't Barbies about people-play, and manufacturing relational situations? Anyway, this seems like something a big brother would love to wreck, not to mention other potential abuses. Kids can be creative for way less than $60.

Fisher Price Smart Fit Park... and any other video games directed at preschoolers
I do not think that a video-gaming lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle. Even with new game systems like the Wii that encourage getting off the couch, a video-gamer can miss out on so much of the world! As unhealthy as video-gaming is for adults, oh how I wish people would leave the little kids out of it. It seems like something that will only lead to worse habits in later life.

I can't wait to be a mom and take my children to the park to play. I hope we have a backyard where they can climb trees and climb on their jungle gym and swing and play in the dirt. When the weather is hot, why not play in the sprinklers? Rainy days? We'll get creative! I'm sure we'll go puddle-jumping some days, and stay home to make cookies other days. We'll even get out the crafts.

But there will be no video games. Not in my house.

Little Tykes Giddy Up & Go Pony
 I think this toy is bizarre. It actually walks, and kids can ride on it. It's kind of cool, but I think I would have gotten bored with this.

It looks a little unsafe to me. It is not something I would allow a child to play with alone.

If my children loved ponies so much, I think I would rather invest in riding lessons or a day at a ranch.

Scrabble Flash Cubes
When did old-fashioned, no-battery-required board games go out of fashion? Advances in technology have blessed my life in many ways. I love being able to watch General Conference at home and keep in contact with relatives who live far away, among other things. But board games? They are meant to connect people, not draw on this technology.

I'm not even much of a game person, but I would far prefer getting out the actual Scrabble game and setting it up and looking up questionable words in the dictionary. I don't need the pieces to tell me my words are not words - SpellCheck gets plenty of words wrong, so why would these game pieces be any different?

Bratz Dolls
I intend to teach my future children virtues like modesty, chastity, and humility.

I don't think Bratz dolls would get those lessons across. Therefore, my daughters will have different dolls to play with. The "high-fashion" focus is not one I care to instill in my little girls.

Any Cell Phone
Cell phones are not toys, but many people treat them as such. Parents used to be responsible, and know pretty much where their kids were. Yes, it can be a dangerous world out there, but "Junior" doesn't drive, he doesn't go out unsupervised, and his school can probably relay any important messages to him. Therefore, "Junior" is not getting a cell phone from me. Besides, don't children lose things? I think "Junior" will become more independent without one of these, anyway.

WWE Smackdown Action Figures
Professional wrestling is bad enough as a thing in itself... but having kids play with action figures from it? That just seems silly. A great way to teach things like violence and disrespect. No thank you.

Husband says, "I don't think I'll get my children anything with 'Smackdown' in the title."

NERF N-Strike Stampede ECS Blaster... and other insane-looking gun toys
The face on the kid in those pictures is enough to deter me from spending my money on something like this for any kids I know.

This puppy is so cute. And if it was just the stuffed toy, I wouldn't have any problem buying it. I just don't like the fact that the selling point on these toys is the "secret code" that allows web access to their "virtual world." Children are learning about the REAL world (that they are new to), or at least they ought to be - why should they spend any time on the internet playing "virtual" world games? Thanks, but no thanks.

Are there any toys you are avoiding this year?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Music that's good for your marriage

I never noticed, before I was married, how many popular songs just aren't that supportive of the idea of marriage. Plenty of artists sing about the thrill of new love, or about getting away with infidelity, or about dumping (or getting revenge on) someone that cheated on you, or even about the hope of reuniting with old flames despite having a new life.

We all know that there are serious problems in the world, especially ones that negatively impact relationships and the family. I feel that it is a better pursuit to seek out the positive rather than to dwell on the negative. Music can have a great impact on the listener, for good or for bad. Rather than take the chance of becoming degraded by listening to degrading music, why don't we make the effort to listen to uplifting songs with inspiring lyrics?

One song that I feel fulfills this object is "God Gave Me You" by Dave Barnes. The lyrics are beautiful, romantic, and express wonder at the miracle of mutual adoration and admiration! Here's a snippet:
On my own I’m only
Half of what I could be
I can’t do without you
We are stitched together
And what love has tethered
I pray we never undo
The music video is equally touching, and we see that love is more than romance. It is about family, and the generational ties it creates, bringing joy to those that take part. Check it out: