Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Knife Toys for Children... FAIL!!!

One of my students brought in a toy to show me that he thought was hilarious. I won't go into bothersome detail when you can see a demonstration of it in the video below.



Yes, that's right. It's a funky-coloured plastic knife that makes a squeaking noise as you stab someone with the blade. While this toy is a hilariously campy toy that I wouldn't mind having on my shelf, this toy is all kinds of wrong for young children.

What kind of play time would you expect with this toy? Children would run around stabbing each other or their toys to be rewarded with delightful squeaking sound. What does this teach children about knives? That it's fun to stab people! Imagine a very young child who plays with this toy and hasn't yet learned the difference between toy knives and real knives. What would might happen if they somehow got their hands on a real one?

Yes, yes. I know that parents should be active enough in their children's lives that they wouldn't be introduced to a toy at a very young age, nor would they leave knives just lying around. But honestly, I don't trust everyone to properly parent their children and this is the last toy I would want to see in the hands of a child that is being raised poorly.

11 comments:

theclumsyninja said...

That ... is disturbing. On so many levels.

Anonymous said...

Won't someone please think of the children! A little over the top with this post I think.

Chris Olson said...

I would have to disagree with it being over the top. Knives are easily accessible, not everyone secures their kitchen knives, tools, etc. Toy guns and even swords are of a different nature, since real ones are generally not easily accessible by children, (or should be at least).

And I completely agree with the lack of trust in other people's parenting. I mean, look at the 11-year-old boy who shot his pregnant step-mother.

Parents need to be teaching their kids. I don't have a problem with violent toys usually, but ones targeted at very small children should not encourage stabbing.

Studies are starting to show that violent behaviour is instilled at a very young age. Teenagers playing violent videogames don't make them killers but learning to stab someone when you're 4 might. I would question any parent that bought their young child a squeaky and stabby fun toy. That sound is clearly only going to appeal to very young children, or ironic adults as a lark.

Anonymous said...

A knife is a potentially deadly instrument, even in the hands of a small child. Any knowledgeable martial artist, doctor or cop will tell you knives are extremely dangerous when directed against a human target: it doesn’t matter where it touches the skin or in what manner, blood will flow and there’s very little force required to deliver a lethal stab or slash. The problem isn’t that this would magically turn children into psycho killers (obviously this is rather absurd, just like violent video-games don’t lead to violence by themselves) but that it greatly facilitates accidents: if a young child habitually plays with this he might be inclined to grab a steakknife of the table and stab his siblings or parents with it, basically mimicking the motion expecting an equally fun squeak only this time with potentially lethal results and with a scream of pain and shock instead of the delightful sound-effect. Knives aren't toys, not even wooden or plastic ones and there's a reason they are always treated as the real thing in training.

I fully agree with Lori and Chris: letting small children play with this ‘toy’ is an accident waiting to happen and it should be either forbidden to target it at children under a certain age or the label should at least point out the dangers in no uncertain terms.

Zara

PS: this might be a helpful tool in knife-defense training though, at least this way it’s clear when contact is made and you don’t have to wash clothing as with the magic marker method.

Chris Olson said...

Zara,

My thoughts exactly. To paraphrase Professor Sylvain, it only takes a small scalpel to perform an autopsy...

As for a training aid, they are unfortunately a little too flimsy for training with any degree of intensity.

FredInChina said...

Osu Anonymous,

Apparently from a point of authority, you say ..."(it is)rather absurd, just like violent video-games don’t lead to violence by themselves"...

I am wondering what we really do know with precision about that?

Thanks for your insights
Fred

Anonymous said...

Common sense suggest the influence of parents, social class, education, culture and psychological factors would be far greater than at maximum a few hours of videogames a day: surely dysfunctional families, a poor & violent neighbourhood, doing poorly at school, the general cultural attitude on violence, aggression & competition and certain personality disorders or other psychopathological problems have a far greater impact on violent behaviour than anything else let alone mere entertainment. To suggest violent videogames somehow ‘cause’ violence among children is ludicrous since so many children spend time with them yet very few undertake serious violence. At best it’s one factor among many and personally I don’t buy it: if anything you’d think playing these games would lead to a decrease in frustration and violent tendencies (catharsis) and only pathological or dysfunctional cases will feed on this and fixate on these purely fictional depictions of violence. Videogames don’t make you violent: that comes from within (frustration, anger, fear, pathology, lack of empathy) and it’s an easy scapegoat for a violent & increasingly dysfunctional society that refuses to confront real problems and instead makes a big fuss about pseudo-issues like new game-releases. If you’re that concerned as a parent simply don’t buy these games for your child and forbid it to play it, that is how great your power is and how little impact the evil game-industry has on your family.

Further proof: the occurrence of extreme violence among children or teenagers is far greater in inherently violent countries like the US as opposed to rather peaceful ones like Japan or European countries yet violent videogames are popular in all these countries. This would make it at least likely a different educational system, cultural differences and availability of weapons has a far greater impact than games or any media alone. On top of that even young children are quite capable of making the distinction between reality and fiction (at least those old enough to be able to play these games and understand the storyline): surely playing Wolfenstein doesn’t manipulate one’s brain into thinking the world’s full of evil SS-men that need to be killed off asap (if it does you urgently need to see a psychiatrist) so how would shooting a german soldier in the game lead to shooting somebody in real life? Hell, restrict gun-ownership and keep guns far away from children and locked up and nobody will get shot in the first place, at least outside of a criminal context. Keep your children in check and do not promote a cut-throat mentality where winning is everything and violence is not only condoned but actively promoted (on to the next war, boys) and there won’t be any violent rampages or at the very least a steep decline in their occurence.

In any case you’d think if it was true and scientifically proven (conclusively) videogames or any other media depicting violence are a direct cause of violence among children or teenagers they’d be forbidden in the interest of public health and safety (much like alcohol is forbidden for minors). Quod non. I’m not a social psychologist nor criminologist but as far as I know studies published on the subject are largely contradictory hence there isn’t a clear conclusion that can be drawn from them and that’s if you grant psychology real scientific status but that is another matter entirely. If there isn’t consensus among specialists common sense dictates opinion and I think my opinion isn’t stupid nor irrational. ...

Anonymous said...

Clearly you expect facts and figures and preferably multiple references to intricate scientific studies in order to prove my ‘authority’ (which I never claimed btw): don’t be a smartass and look it up yourself. I’m sure an educated individual like yourself could easily verify or disprove the factuality of my claims and shed some light on the subject. I’m not going to waste time on a subject that doesn’t concern me directly nor am I very interested in discussing this further with you. Think of it what you like.

Zara

Anonymous said...

Clearly that should have been 'developmental' or 'clinical psychologist' instead of 'social psychologist' lest someone take offense

rob said...

Chris,

What studies? What is your definition of violent behaviour? And what evidence is there that playing with toy swords, knives and guns is likely to turn you into a killer?

Also, any four year old who doesn't know the difference between a toy knife that makes a squeaky sound and a real knife is a retard. When I was a kid, every boy of six had a pen knife. I remember getting a Swiss army knife for my seventh birthday.

Lori O'Connell said...

Hedge Wizard, I wish all parents could be trusted to raise their children as responsibly as you have. Yours is an example that should be followed.