Toys are nothing without a context. It may sound strange, but toys and other things children meet during the years of the development have no meaning if not placed into the appropriate or inappropriate context. People with issues grow up from kids with issues. However, these issues are determined by the environment children live and develop in, but not the objects around. It means that if a boy plays with a water pistol and lives in a good family without domestic violence and other problems, it is highly unlikely that he will take the real gun and shoot people around in the future. Permitting children to play with the so-called “bad” toys like Barbie is not harmful for their development if parents provide necessary support, if the context is appropriate, and if children are not influenced by peers beyond acceptable extent.
First, the development process of a child must be monitored by parents. It is the case when support of parents is utterly important and must not be excessively obvious. Children learn to perceive the world through actions more than observations – they try everything around. Therefore, toys are among the things they will definitely try out even if parents do not allow – peers will communicate, have such toys, etc. Parental support lies in the ability to explain in the proper way what this or that toy is and why it is like this and not different. “Barbie” is not the perfect toy in terms of body structure or anatomic peculiarities. The girl says that only ears are similar a bit to the real ones (Jackson, 1991). However, if parents explain properly the purpose of “Barbie” – it is a toy but not a copy of a real person – girls will never identify themselves with dolls and will never compare to feel frustrated if they do not match the ideal.
Second, the context in which toys are presented is utterly important as well. Toys are needed to develop children’ imagination. Putting “Barbie” into the context of imaginary world that has nothing to do with real is the right choice of the context. Children should not identify toys with real things. “Barbie” is not a model from the fashion show on TV. It is a plastic toy with lots of clothes that can become a model in the imaginary world of a child and by the will of this child, but not vice versa. A boy should not identify a water pistol with real guns therefore, it is not appropriate to let children watch scenes of violence (Jackson, 1991).
Finally, children should not play with other children too much. It may sound strange but if a child has no understanding of what “Barbie” is, peers (who do not have parental control and support at home) can enlighten this child very easily. It may end badly. Therefore, it is very important to have control over the situation in order to avoid letting children be influenced by peers (Jackson, 1991). Parents are the major sources of information for the children during the early years of development. It means that toys are not bad or good. They may be presented badly and become harmful for the psychological state of child.
Jackson (1991) states that “Barbie” is the worst toy ever in terms of sex-propaganda and similar influences. However, she noticed that girls do not perceive this toy as a copy of a really existing person. Therefore, it is all about the right information given by the parents and appropriate environment. Parents shape children’ perception of the outside world – not toys. Therefore, they cannot be good or bad. They have meaning only when it has been put into the child’s mind by someone.