The changing world of children’s toys

Toys are changing, while some people may worry that tablets and smartphones are taking over and that young children are becoming dependent on technology, in the opposite direction, many toys are becoming more suitable and appropriate for children every day.

As diversity and inclusion is now rightfully expected and campaigned for it seems that toys are changing things up to represent realistic people and positive role models for children.

We now have more realistic body shapes and sizes on the recently revamped Barbie doll. American Girl dolls are available in different ethnicities and all come with inspiring expectations like the desire to travel or become a doctor. It is clear that diversity is becoming more sought after among parents. Gender specific toys are now taking a back seat to welcome toys without stereotypical assumptions.

Lego recently announced its first ever wheelchair figure at the beginning of this year, which is a huge step in the right direction for representation of disabled children. This news did not come from nowhere however, as campaigners had been fighting since last year to see this come into effect. A petition was launched last year urging Lego and other toy makers to ‘please positively represent disability in your toys’. The petition has over 20,000 signatures and is accompanied by a viral hashtag called #toylikeme. One supporter of the petition wrote “I’ve been disabled my whole life, and as a child I would have loved toys that were disabled too. ”

When it was announced that Lego had in fact responded to their plea the organisers of the campaign said that they had “genuine tears of joy”.

While is it just one small toy it is a huge step in the right direction. This is hopefully only the beginning of a long line of inclusive toys for the world’s biggest minority with over 150 million disabled children worldwide. In Ireland there are over 595 thousand people living with a disability according to the 2011 census. This makes up over 13% of the country.

John O’Sullivan, National Director of Services, Enable Ireland says that they welcome any recognition of the people with disabilities in our society. He said: “Lego is one of those universal toys that every child plays with so it’s a powerful tool in helping children to see people with disabilities as part of society as a whole.”

With the high praise and publicity that this received it is likely and it is hoped that this is the first of many types of disabilities that is represented by Lego and other toy companies.

These toys are now making playtime more realistic and inclusive for all types of children.

Megan Roantree


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