Week 5 – The Power of Objects

Should designers consider the wider impact of the toys they design, or not?

Everything that any designer creates has an impact on the world, a designer has the power to shape the world through their outcome which is a power that should be considered in every step of the process. Toy designers are designing for children many who are yet understand the world around them. Designer need to consider the social impact that the toys they design might have on a child. According to Barthes children are considered ‘nothing but a smaller man, a homunculus to whom must be supplied objets of his own size’ therefore the toys are just adult objects resized for children. This could be considered as preparing children for the ideals that society expect children to grow up to do, for example, a doll could be considered to ‘condition her to her future role as a mother’. This is bound to have an impact on how a child might feel obligated to complete this tasks when older.

A designers job involves a great deal of creativity and imagination however do they need to consider how toys impact a child’s creativity. Sommerville stated, that a study conducted where children toys were removed from a classroom for three months, “by the end of the third month they [children] were engaged in wildly imaginative play”. It can be inferred that children’s educational toys limit their ability to be creative, it’s a designers job to consider this impact when designing toys, thinking about the wider impact that it could have on their industry in years to come.

Furthermore, designers need to consider are toys actually educational, do they teach children when they are intended to do or do they require adults required to assist. “The educational value only comes from parents interacting with their child” highlights that designers aren’t considering that children cannot be left to complete these tasks. They aren’t considering that this is also have an significant impact on a child’s creative development as they are being told what is what rather than creative their own world with these toys.

Sommerville, M. (2015), Why depriving your kids of toys is a great idea, in The Guardian.
Barthes, R. (1972), Toys in Mythologies, pp. 53-55
Yelland, N. (2014), Can toys really be ‘educational’? Well that depends on the parents, in The Conversation

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