Wednesday, 14 December 2011

And a playstation in a peartree - the extravagance of children's presents?

Just ten days left until Christmas and talk is turning from what you’re going to buy to what you’ve bought. And the kids’ Christmas lists are still growing.

I remember when I was a child all the things I requested for Christmas. A remote controlled car; a train set; scalectrics... can you tell I was never a girly girl? But even my friends’ requests ranged from baby dolls to pushchairs to dressing up clothes etc.

Nowadays there are of course still these requests. Lego/star wars toys/various character toys depending on the current in-film (I remember when Buzz lightyear was the must-have toy at least two Christmases running). But now we have an additional flood of requests.

No longer is it acceptable to just have toys and games for Christmas, now children want more. Now requests include such items as expensive games consoles, playstations, Xboxes, wii and DS, most of which cost in excess of £150 (with the exception of the DS), and then of course you have to buy games which don’t come cheap. And not satisfied with mere games consoles the requests continue. Televisions/DVD players for bedrooms, laptops, iPods and IPads, and that ever contentious one, mobile phones.

And the children are getting these presents younger and younger. I remember vividly someone telling me how she had bought her three children a television each for their bedroom. The youngest was three. Or the three year old that was given a Nintendo DS because his brother would be getting one and it wouldn’t be fair.

When did children stop being children playing with toys and demanding expensive technology? And how did we get to a point where instead of giving our children toys, we spend hundreds of £s on technology which is predominantly above their age?

There is no doubt that technology does now play a huge part in children’s’ lives, most schools have ICT programmes where children are taught about computers, how to use them and as they grow older computers do begin to play a bigger part in their lives.

But I can’t help wondering, if you buy a four year old a £150 games console, what is that child going to have when he’s fourteen? If they have it all now, what do they have to look forward to in present terms in the future?

And quite aside from all that, what about the cost? After all one £150 games console simply isn’t enough – there must be a big pile of presents under the tree for the children, as well as a stocking full of goodies.

I can’t help wondering if we’ve simply lost the art of saying no. After all it’s much easier to give in for a quiet life than to be told that “I’m the only one of my friends who doesn’t have...” And there’s always the argument that if we don’t let our children have something they will become victims of bullying. But shouldn’t we be standing up to that rather than giving in to it?

And really, do children need all this stuff? Are we not just raising a generation of children who have become used to getting what they want, when they want?

1 comment:

  1. We have an 11 year old boy, 6 year old girl and 4 year old girl.
    We usually have a total ban on games consoles in our house but at the moment we've borrowed a Wii from my sons dad but we only let them do the Wii fit games. We asked Aiden's dad not to send any other games up because we wouldn't allow them to play them.
    They don't ask for games consoles for Christmas because they know we wouldn't buy them.
    Televisions aren't allowed in their rooms either.
    They do have a desktop pc which we allow them to play games on and Aiden has a ds which his dad bought him but he only really plays it on weekends when he goes to his dads.
    I know to most people it sounds like we're being unfair but we don't want them growing up fixated on video games.
    At his dads, Aiden has just about every console going and he spends hours playing games at the weekend. I'd much rather he were out playing with proper friends, like I used to do.