Let Toys Be Toys, a campaign group championing gender neutrality in the toy aisles, is claiming that TV adverts for toys are ‘reinforcing limiting gender stereotypes.’
According to research carried out by Let Toys Be Toys volunteers, ‘a majority of ads show boys and girls playing separately in very stereotypical ways.’
Research found that ads featuring boys are predominantly for vehicles, action figure dolls, construction sets and toy weapons.
Let Toys Be Toys adds: ‘Boys are shown as active and aggressive, and the language used emphasises control, power and conflict. No ads for baby or fashion dolls included boys.’
Elsewhere, the group found that ads featuring girls are predominantly for dolls, glamour and grooming and have an ‘overwhelming emphasis’ on appearance, performance, nurturing and relationships.
‘Girls are largely shown as relatively passive and rarely active other than dancing,’ stated the group.
‘The language used in the ads focuses on fantasy, beauty and relationships. Of 25 ads for toy vehicles, only one included a girl.’
“At Let Toys Be Toys we believe that there is no such thing as a ‘girls’ toy’ or a ‘boys’ toy’, but TV ads give children narrow and limiting ideas about how boys and girls behave, and how they’re expected to play," said Let Toys Be Toys campaigner, Jess Day.
“Play is vital to children’s learning and development. A child should feel free to pick up and play with any toy they like, providing that it’s safe and age-appropriate. But we know that children’s decisions are affected by labels and messages about whether a toy is suitable for a boy or a girl – we know this as parents, and it’s backed up by research. Marketing toys by gender limits children’s choices, limits their chances to learn and develop and feeds bullying.
“Gender-stereotyped marketing to children has massively increased since the 1970s. We would make the link with the recent research finding by the Young Women’s Trust that young women have more stereotyped views about the work that’s suitable for men and women than older women do. Kids deserve better. We’re calling on toy companies to act more responsibly, and use their creativity and innovation to market toys without promoting harmful and limiting stereotypes.”