ILLUSTRATION BY IWANTFREEWIFI
When thinking about buying a present for a child, most people probably think about large toy store giant, Toys “R” Us. As a child, walking into the store was a dream. Wherever you look, toys would line shelves or sit on displays. Despite its widespread prevalence in the industry, the chain filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, September 18th 2017. They are given a period of time to attempt of reforming their company, store, and finances, so there is a chance for them to make a comeback. But for the “rebirth” of Toys “R” Us to be successful, they must take criticism from their consumers and change for the better.
The stores have been struggling due to increased demand in electronic devices by the children who had previously wanted toys. Competition is fierce between these two products and their producers, but how did this happen? Have toys been overshadowed by iPads? The iPad is such a versatile device easily operated by the younger population. It’s an efficient way of calming down a child and keeping them occupied while freeing their caretaker to do whatever they wish. iPads are so easy for children to use. The touch-screen is a perfect fit for children who love to interact with different shapes and colours. There is even a section in the Apple App Store for education with tons of games that help them learn, but most children still associate “iPad” with “games” or “toys”.
iPads may be a convenient way of keep a child busy but they do have some consequences. If kids use it for a long duration or in a bad position they might suffer from eye strain or neck pain. They can also grow up to be addicted to the device which can cause social isolation. Children seem to “tunnel in” on their devices and ignore everyone around them—what we commonly call being “glued to the screen.” While building in imaginary worlds may encourage and grow imagination, it doesn’t compare to physically building with blocks or Legos. iPads cannot simulate every sense and feeling. In an article for Nursery World, Psychologist Richard House claims giving a baby an iPad should be done “with caution” to avoid “developmental catastrophe”. For children who don’t know how to do basic skills like walking, they should have little to no screen time at all and focus on developing more. Parents need to take action and prevent the negatives of iPads from affecting their children.
Toys “R” Us will have around 1,600 stores running throughout the rest of the year. CEO David Brandon says that over the course of the bankruptcy protection they will start creating new experiences within the stores to compete with increasingly popular online shopping. They want to host birthday parties, have demonstrations of products, and work with developers to create games. Brandon guarantees the brand will live on and they will move through the holiday season with confidence.
To prepare for their future, Toys “R” Us is setting its focus on Black Friday in hopes of making a profit during the large flow of customers. They are going to guarantee the lowest prices and integrate new parts of the store, like the Play Labs that allow consumers to test toys before purchase. They have also launched the Play Chaser app that can guide players around the store on their mobile device (if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?). In addition, they will have their eyes set on the Asian market where they haven’t filed for bankruptcy protection. The months to come seem promising for a comeback for the company. Yet despite their efforts, some companies aren’t willing to supply toys to them until they get paid.
Technology is convenient and helpful and its possibilities are virtually limitless, but sometimes limits are what we need. The harmful consequences of overuse or exposure to devices are becoming more and more evident as we spend more time with them. To lessen the negative effects of iPads and create better experiences we need to start creating realistic limits on screen time.
Toys “R” Us is working hard to maintain their presence in children’s lives. Society is constantly evolving and changing, with the market in their wake. Regardless of the outcome for this giant of toy retail, we should hope for physical toys, activity and interaction to make up more of children’s lives than the screens that can steal them away.
Tech and Effect is a regular column in which OneSizeFitsAllShirt discusses the influence of technology on society. Got a story for Tech and Effect? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.