Most of us have had the privilege of listening to our grandparents regale us with stories of their youth, informing us of how lucky we are nowadays to have the toys and technology we use on a daily basis. To be sure, the type, material, and even purpose of toys have all changed significantly over the past years. In fact, this is easily visible if you look at your children’s toys; most likely many of the things your little ones have today were unimaginable only decades ago.
How far, then, have children’s toys come over the past years? And where has most of the change occurred? If you have ever been curious about how toys have changed over the years, read on for a short lesson in history on this fascinating topic.
Early Days of Toys
To understand the basic changes in toys, it is first important to look at what toys looked like, or, in the case of ancient history, may have looked like to truly see the metamorphosis over time. In Ancient Greece, and likely in many other ancient societies, toys were not manufactured items that came prepackaged in a box. Instead, many children may have played with inflated pig bladders to act as primitive balls or even bones from certain animals. Some children may have even played with spinning tops or hoops, or even rocking horses. And part of the population may have had the chance to play with wooden dolls, as well.
Of course, the lack of variety in toys may largely have to do with a dearth of free time; specifically, children throughout much of history were likely required to spend time helping around the house or on the land, and had little opportunity for fun and leisure.
Thousands of years later, the technology behind toys began to change. In ancient times, and throughout much of the past few centuries, a lack of technology made the creation of toys relatively difficult. With the arrival of the industrial revolution, however, the process was expedited and overall simplified, allowing for a greater scope of toys to arrive onto the market.
Toys in the Past Century
Ultimately, the past century, and even few decades, have seen the greatest changes in toys due to rapid advances in technology, as well as how families view the importance and even necessity of children’s activities. Whereas prior to the 20th century most toys may have been made out of wood, clay, or other similar materials, this century saw the creation of toys made out of plastic, an entirely new idea. Furthermore, soft toys arrived on the market as well with teddy bears first becoming popular in the early 20th century.
Naturally, because of the heavy emphasis on religious education worldwide throughout the past, and even throughout a majority of the past century, many children were likely to play with religion-themed toys as well to help aid in their studies.
The Biggest Changes in Toys
In what realm, then, have the biggest changes occurred in regards to the development and modification of children’s toys? And how has it affected children throughout the past years.
To be sure, it is unquestionable that a significant amount of emphasis has been placed on the importance of educational toys over the past decades. Of course, this has not truly been only a recent phenomenon; to be sure, a famous 17th century philosopher declared that ‘dice and playthings’ with letters on them could help children learn the letters of the alphabet, spawning early iterations of toys like wooden alphabet blocks. That being said, education was not always the most important part of a child’s life; in fact, many children left school early, or failed to attend school at all, instead staying home to help the family and ensure there was food on the table at the end of the day.
With a greater emphasis on education has arrived an increase in educational toys; furthermore, whereas early educational toys may have solely focused on the alphabet and numbers, now children can learn about science and nature, music, and a variety of other topics, simply by heading to the playroom.
In addition to the purpose of toys, one thing has seen massive changes as well: the inclusion of modern, even future technologies. Where before, children could expect to play with toys that required they use nothing but their imaginations, now kids may spend time in the playroom with miniature computers and tablets, and other such technological toys that have only emerged recently.
How Toys Have Changed
Looking only a few years back, it is not difficult to see how toys have changed over the past. Developments in technology and in culture overall have had a massive impact on playroom’s across the entire world.