Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy this week. Mattel® and Hasbro shares dropped sharply. News agencies and readers’ comments indicated that consumers had found less expensive purchasing options for toys. Thus, the collapse of the toy giant. Apparently, toys “R” no longer for us.
I recently witnessed a two-year-old in a waiting room playing a tot’s game on his mother’s phone. Another child played with her toddler-version tablet. A third toddler was reading a board book. Two of the three were entertained by technology, even though the waiting room held a healthy supply of toys and books.
When my children were small, they played with all kinds of toys. They also had a VTech tablet. By four years of age, they were comfortable reading books, using a computer, and staging their toys in their original toy-drama production, which they documented on their dad’s video recorder. Decades later, touchable, tangible toys remain a key ingredient in their adult lives, right alongside their books and high tech devices. Do they appreciate toys and hi-tech because we as parents encouraged both? Because toys were acceptable by most kids in the day?
Have we become a virtual society of sorts? A society where we touch a device that transports us to the intangible, a digital world that appears more entertaining, more exciting, that gives us more of more?
Questions aside, I’m not convinced that finding less expensive toys elsewhere is why Toys “R” Us is bankrupt. I am inclined to believe that the entertainment enjoyed via expensive built-in movie devices in vehicles, massive television screens in home entertainment centers, personal tablets, and cellphones is the more likely cause for toy store bankruptcies or for the decline in toymakers’ shares.