Screens and Beyond: An Analysis of (Tech) Toys Marketed for Infants

Children and Screens

This study investigated how digital technology is infiltrating the toy market. Few toys are designed with input from developmental scientists. The changing nature of toys is an important contextual factor of development, especially in light of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that parents limit screen time for their young children. In this study, 444 toys advertised primarily as appropriate for infants (ages 0-24 months) were considered, from two retailers. One of those retailers served customers with a higher base income (“HBI”), while the others served those with a lower based income (“LBI”) The variables examined were: price; gender-based marketing; electronic toy features; educational marketing; and the primary developmental domain addressed (physical, cognitive, or social). Preliminary analyses showed that (i) the LBI retailer had only a slightly lower average price than its more upmarket competitor; (ii) a larger percentage of the LBI retailers’ toys were electronic, and (iii) a largely percentage of the LBI retailer’s toys were marketed as “Educational”. At both stores, a majority of the toys for the infant market targeted the physical domain, with cognitive the next most common target.