Gender Neutral Toys and Apps

April 9, 2015 Published by

Play is a huge part of a child’s life and it is how they learn new things, develop skills and explore their own ideas freely. However there can be a lot of pressure on parents and children, through advertising, family members and the media, to encourage children to play with toys that are gender specific. Gender neutral toys and apps have a lot to offer and can allow your child the freedom to play without any pre-set expectations.

Toy Shop Aisles

Toy shop isles still show a gender divide
As this Toca Boca article discusses, a walk through a toy store will highlight these gender stereotypes with aisles full of pink, dolls and princesses versus construction and action toys with boys on the box. It can be hard for parents to help their child choose the toy they want without them being swayed by the layout and peer pressure.

Balancing your child’s play diet can be tough when gender is targeted in such a sweeping way, often limiting boys and girls to set styles of play.

Gender Neutral Apps

Lego is a great gender neutral toyApps are one place where we are pleased to see an understanding of the importance of gender neutral ideas. Whilst there are apps that conform strongly to gender stereotypes, many Good Apps from companies like Toca Boca, Seven Academy and Sago Sago are carefully designed to be gender neutral.

We are also delighted to see that if an app does not outwardly seem to be biased towards one gender, parents seem comfortable with their sons playing with classically ‘girly’ features. For example, whilst some parents may find it hard to allow their son to dress up as a princess or play with dolls in the real world, they could be happy to allow him the freedom to do this in an app as part of a wider game.

We are also delighted to see so many girls loving neutrally themed building games and science apps. A single app can combine many different features and types of play that appeal to both genders rather than limiting itself to being a ‘girl’s toy’ or a ‘boy’s toy’.

Play Ideas for All Children

Dr Amanda Gummer’s book on Play shows parents how to be confident in their own abilities and how to support their child through their first five years. It is a great resource for ideas on gender neutral play to help your child develop.

Some of our tips to help parents avoid gender biasing include:Gender neutral toys and apps have an important place in a sea of pink

  • Don’t just give your child access to toys that are gender specific – provide gender neutral and toys that are classically for the opposite gender too and give your child the freedom to choose. For example, to get your girls into building, consider these Toca Boca tips on making building gender neutral.
  • Avoid colour-coding: whilst it has been proved that different genders naturally lean towards playing with different toys and types of play, a love of ‘pink for girls’ is learned. Try to give your daughter things they love in other colours, from their clothes to their cutlery.
  • Try new play ideas that are entirely gender neutral and sit back and watch how your child plays. Are they responding to how they think they should play?
  • Encourage siblings or friends of different sexes to all bring something to the group, watch for older or more confident children dominating play by supporting the younger or quieter ones to be more involved.

It is great to see the app industry successfully avoid gender stereotypes and hopefully this will inspire the toy industry towards a more gender neutral future. Whether you have a girl who loves princesses or one who likes to build, giving the choice back to the child is the key. Our aim is to encourage children to grow up to be confident individuals who are able to express themselves.

Photos: Mike Mozart, C Slack & M. Mozart

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This post was written by Fundamentally Children

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