LEGO responds to claims of 'increased violence' among building sets

Robert Hutchins

By Robert Hutchins

May 23rd 2016 at 12:02PM
UPDATED May 24th 2016 at 12:12PM
LEGO responds to claims of 'increased violence' among building sets

Responding to claims the toymaker has become engaged in an ‘arms race’ to catch children’s attention, the firm says its humour ‘tones down the level of conflict’ within its themed sets.

The LEGO Group has hit back at a University study that claims that sets of its popular construction toys have become ‘increasingly violent.’

In response to a study that claims the toymaker had become engaged in an ‘arms race’ to catch children’s attention, the firm has said that its use of humour helps ‘tone down the level of conflict’ within its themed sets.

In a peer-reviewed study published by the online journal PLOS ONE, researchers from the University of Canterbury concluded that LEGO “showed significant exponential increases of violence over time.”

However, LEGO has responded to the research stating that ‘weapons are always used for a wider purpose such as saving the world, and are part of a child’s development.’

Finding that 30 per cent of LEGO’s current portfolio feature some form of weaponry, lead researcher Christoph Batneck, said: “The LEGO Company’s products are not as innocent as they used to be.”

An analysis of LEGO catalogues from 1973 to 2015 found the scenarios depicted had become ‘more violent’, with 40 per cent of all pages containing ‘some type of violence such as shooting of threatening behavior.’

“To catch the attention of their customers, toy manufacturers are similarly locked in a metaphorical arms race for exciting new products,” said the study.

But LEGO spokesperson Troy Taylor, offered that the firm’s products promoted a range of play activities such as construction, fantasy and conflict.

“As with other play types, conflict play is a natural part of a child’s development,” he told the AFP news agency.

“We always try and use humour where possible as it helps tone down the level of conflict.”