Traditional, Non-Tech Toys Still Popular for Boys & Girls

October 20, 2008

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Though tech toys are still popular, non-tech toys remain strong favorites among kids/youths age 8-18, according to a study released at the Sandbox Summit, which developed the study in collaboration with Harris Interactive’s Youth Center of Excellence?(via Retailer Daily).

When naming their favorite toys, two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed named an actual brand/toy name – and among specific brands named, the top 2 favorite are toys with no batteries or electronic technology.

Tweens are more likely than teens to mention a brand/toy name (74% tweens vs. 65% teens). More than three in five tweens agree that toys are necessary to have fun (62%).

When specifically asked, however, whether toys that involve technology – like video and computer games and handheld games or toys – are more fun than other toys:

  • 84% of males age 8-12 agreed that they are more fun, compared with 69% of females.
  • 71% of males age 13-18 agreed that toys that involve technology are more fun, vs. 53% of females 13-18.


“While traditional toys are still popular, the nature of ‘play’ is changing for today’s youth, both in terms of the activities they participate in and the outcomes they expect from play,” said Peter Shafer, VP, Youth Center of Excellence. “In today’s world, kids are actually more likely to be playing alone with their favorite toys versus playing with others.”

And according to Claire Green, cofounder of Sandbox Summit, “We’ve crossed the digital Rubicon. We know technology is here to stay. As adults we have a responsibility to understand how tech toys, from electronics to online communities, affect the way kids learn to play and think.”

Additional study findings:

  • Imagination, challenge and ease of use outweigh the desire for social and learning aspects of toys:
    • For tween girls, it is important that toys are fun (88%), easy to use (78%), and make them use their imagination (69%).
    • For tween boys it is extremely/very important that toys are fun (93%), make them use their imagination (66%), and challenging (61%).


  • ?Boys and girls differ in what they value in play experiences:
    • Tween boys like the challenge of playing with their favorite toy (tween boys 21% vs. tween girls 11%).
    • Tween girls like the ability to play with their favorite toy in different ways (tween girls 22% vs. tween boys 16%).


  • Asked what they enjoyed most about playing with their favorite toy, respondents said fun (22%), variety of ways to play (22%), pretend role play (20%), creativity and building (16%), and imagination (13%).


“In a time when youth’s lives are filled with increasingly rigid scheduling and structure, they desire and appreciate toys that afford them the opportunity to express themselves, be creative, and offer options for a variety of experiences,” said Dr. Suzanne Martin, president of Martin Consulting.

  • Self-perceived creativity goes down with age, with over half (53%) of tweens and 45% of teens self reporting as extremely/very creative.
  • Youth who described themselves as extremely or very creative are more likely to see themselves in a technology- or engineering-related job more than those who described themselves as creative/somewhat creative/not all creative (33% vs. 22%).

About the findings: This survey was designed in collaboration with the Sandbox Summit and conducted online by Harris Interactive within the United States by Harris Interactive July 16-24, 2008 among 1,353 US 8-18-year-olds (538 8-12-year-olds; 815 13-18-year-olds) in collaboration with Sandbox Summit. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, parental education, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.


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