Wednesday, March 4, 2009

At War with Toys for Boys

So, Will is 6 1/2 years old.

His favorite toy since he was 2 has been Thomas the Tank Engine and friends. Here's part of his collection:

I'm not sure, but I think he's starting to lose a little interest... not much, but a little. I wonder if it's partly because his friends at school are saying Thomas is for babies.

We had a talk about it and he said, "The box says it's for 3 year-olds and over." So I replied with, "Well, then it's for you. Are you older than 3? It's for Mommy, too... I'm older than 3." He seemed ok with that answer.

I'm not ready for Thomas to go. I like the innocence and the stories Will makes up using the trains. He's very creative and the tracks give him something to manipulate.

Even with that said, I'm ready to introduce something new to Will, but I'm just not sure what yet. I don't want him watching Star Wars or Indian Jones... which are very popular among the boys his age. I often wonder if the parents let their boys watch these movies or are the kids just interested because of the light sabers and whips?

I just don't think I'm ready for Will to be exposed to images like this.

What's up with his eyes? That's just creepy...

Sure the star-ships are cool, but the violence is constant, the evil characters are scary and some of the good characters are too.

And then there is Indian Jones... the language, the alcohol, shootings, stabbing, stealing and gun fights.

We don't let the boys watch too many PG movies in general. We watch PBS during the day and even some of those cartoons use words that I would rather not hear (ie "shut up" and "stupid").

At what point am I being too overprotective? When does it become *ok* to let my boys watch these shows? Are these shows just the modern day Cops & Robbers or Cowboys & Indians?

Am I just over thinking all of this??

What do your boys find interesting? Do they watch these movies? Do they have questions about them? Nightmares from them?

Any suggestions for less violent toys for boys?

I know I'm full of questions in this post and I know my boys can't stay little forever. I sure would appreciate some extra input today.


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reprehriestless warillever said...

I am so with you.

What is with marketing toys and clothing toward children too young to watch the movies? Indiana Jones, Spiderman, Transformers. Sorry, my 6yo is not advertising a movie that I won't let him watch!

Julie @ blessedwithfive said...

We are pretty careful with what our kids watch and play with. I did just introduce them to the Bibleman dvds and figures . . . if you are looking for a "superhero" you may want to try Bibleman - we got them through cbd - they have Bibleman Jr for the wee ones.

Nowheymama said...

It really does depend on you and your child. I was much more timid then K. is, and I would have hated Star Wars, but she loves it. I might give the first Star Wars movie (from the 70s) a parental viewing and see what you think. There is no language, and it is not as scary as the ones from the 90s. Or, you can just pretend. Eli likes to pretend he's Indiana Jones (we have a Lego I.J. game) even though he's never seen any of the movies. He just likes to pretend with his "rope" (whip).

Beth said...

my smallest two boys are almost 5 and 7. They love the superhero movies (Spiderman, Hulk, Transformers, etc.) and don't have nightmares or anything. We didn't let the youngest watch The Dark Knight because we were afraid it would be too much.

At home, they're more into Spongebob, Nickelodeon, and Tom and Jerry cartoons.

What seems to be the worst "toys" for my kids are video games and Pokeman cards. Their behavior goes right down the tubes when they play either for very long.

You know your kids. If they are scared easily, then look for more tame stuff, like Bibleman.

So far, I haven't found that exposure to these movies/characters have made much impact.

Melissa said...

I have tried to leave a comment twice, and twice I have deleted my mini blog posts!!!

Let me just say Netflix, Netflix, Netflix. If you are not using this service I highly recommend you check into it. It is well worth the money to have suitable, appropriate entertainment choices for your family preferences, and you will find what you are looking for with Netflix.

BTW - I am in no way making light of the violence you are questioning because I think it is unacceptable for children too, but just imagine if your children were encouraged (by others) to play with a ridiculously anatomically correct woman doll and her man doll friend...ugh!!!

Tamara said...

My oldest is the same age as your oldest. We don't do any of those things you mentioned, except Thomas of course. My kids only watch G movies and not even all those. There will be time for that when they are older.

My son spends a ton of time playing Legos and it seems to be popular among his classmates too. I am a huge fan of them too as there is so much he can do with them using his imagination. He still plays with trains a lot and hasn't mentioned them being too "baby" although I have heard another parent say that her son was getting that idea from his pears too. We have had some boys over from his class and they seemed to really like the Geotrax set we have.

babyboofelt said...

My brother played Thomas with his friend until they were 8... I think it ended more with the fact that they moved away, he had the awesome train table and tons of tracks.

Gavin has a lot of super hero action figures, but has never seen a tv show or movie to be honest...

There are plenty of tv shows out that are not as bad, Ben Ten (alien force) and some of the new transformers cartoons don't seem so bad. I think you should watch anything they're going to watch first, if you can, is a great way to get to know the shows since I bet you can't get a saturday morning to yourself to watch cartoons, I know I can't with one!

6 is the Psychologist recommended age for taking kids to the movies as they've finally begun the process to understand that a 9foot tall Bob or Larry (veggie tales lol) will not come out of the screen and well crush and or eat them... But I'd avoid movies that are pg-13 and live action, I think they can still be rather scary.

laurel said...

I admit, this is an area in our home that has seen A LOT of compromise. Matt and I have very, very different opinions about this (mine are similar to yours). My children do see more than I am personally comfortable with. They LOVE star wars and it is the big obsession around here. They watch the old versions, not the new. They have not seen the Indiana Jones movies, but do love the Wii games (Lego Version) and Legos. I drew the line at the Transformers movie, which Matt wanted to take them to see. The only reason I won that battle was not b/c of the violence but b/c of Megan Fox being half naked!!

Super B's Mom said...

I don't really have any advice here but just wanted to say that you're a GOOD MOM. :)

And why can't they love Thomas forever?? I miss our days of playing with trains... *sigh*

Meg said...

One of my biggest blessings about being able to stay home with my kids is that I really AM the last word when it comes to what they are exposed to... I've noticed a direct correlation between what our oldest watches and the way his play develops... It's kinda scary!

Before I had kids, I worked for 5 years in the child care industry - and I saw the same kind of representational play happening there too. The best thing you can do is choose some movies/play that you are comfortable with, and then watch the way your son uses what he sees. If it looks like he's using what he sees in a harmful way, pull the plug! :)

We had to take away Robin Hood (the Disney version!) for almost 3 months to get the sword fighting to calm down to a manageable level! :)

mom24 said...

My opinion: they are not ready for images like that! At such an age their imagination is very active and very easily molded.
Our rule: nothing over G, unless we have pre-viewed it for language and scary or violent images. We've only found one PG which we allow (The Journey to the Center of the Earth - has a scary dinosaur).
Do not let yourself be pressured by anything in this culture, but always pray about your decisions first. You are not overthinking this. You even need to be careful of cartoons in which underlying messages don't follow your beliefs or where propoganda or adult ideas are exposing your kids to things they aren't yet ready for.
Many find us very conservative (ie. overprotective here). But they are YOUR children and are only innocent ONCE....
Keep praying, Mom...:-)

Michelle said...

I totally agree...I love that Emily still loves Elmo, Baby Einstien Videos and Winnie the Pooh. I played with my baby dolls and barbies until I was 13 and I hope that Emily won't be pressured into not playing with them because of what her friends think. Kids seem to be growing up way to fast! I love the innocence of the stories she makes up with her babies, little people and now trains. Way to go for encouraging that with you son for as long as possible!