Ever watch a popular YouTube video and think, “I could do that?”
Well, that’s exactly what Jason and Lucy Maxwell thought when they noticed the videos their daughters, Addy and Maya, enjoyed watching on YouTube. Their girls liked something specific: toy unboxing videos. In 2015, the family decided to make a video of their own. It went viral. Since then, they’ve been posting to YouTube on their Tic Tac Toy channel. They specialize in toy reviews and sometimes make sweet, silly videos.
And they’re beloved!
Their Tic Tac Toy channel has over 4 million subscribers and more than 2 billion views. That’s crazy success for any channel, but especially one that Newsweek calls “wholesome.” Addy and Maya Maxwell are tween girls, but by the numbers they’re influencers! (And in this case, that’s a good thing.) The fact that they love toys and that the world loves them gives me hope that families still want toys to be innocent, safe, and age-appropriate.
And that kids still want to play.
Children are forgetting how to play. And I’m not the only one concerned with the lack of play—so is Diane Levin, PhD, a professor at Wheelock College and the coauthor of So Sexy So Soon. She talks to teachers all the time who see the trend. One told her,
“It’s harder and harder to have free play in my classroom. Some children can’t cope with lack of structure. They roam around the room dabbling at this or that, but rarely get involved in any activity for long.”
They don’t know how to play.
So how does a connecting mom get some good old-fashioned play into her daughter’s life?
The best thing for her to play with is nothing at all.
The need for toys has been created by multibillion-dollar giants who really couldn’t care less about the development of our girls. They care most about the holy dollar. Our kids don’t need anything to play with, and they play best when they’re unlimited by toys that define play for them.
Dolls are great for creative play, but the kind of doll she plays with matters more than you might know.
Here’s the deal—when our daughters play with cute, nonsexual dolls, they tend to let imaginative play loose. They role-play and create, giving muscle to their executive function. But when our daughters play with dolls that have a more seductive or beauty-based nature, they tend to be more confined in their imaginative play. Their play generally leans toward “seduce the boy.” Dr. Diane Levin says, “The more time a girl plays this way, the more she’ll focus on looks and coquettish behavior, and the less time she’ll spend doing the open-ended activities kids need. It puts her on a conveyor belt to early sexualization.”
There’s more than dolls on the shelves in the toy department. Some of the stuff out there is just not okay for our girls. Let me say it outright: Your daughter won’t just survive; she’ll thrive without the toys “everyone else” buys.
I talk to many moms who say, “Oh, I fought that battle but lost…all the girls have them.”
I have to ask two things: How hard did you fight? And if you’re losing now when it “doesn’t count,” how are you going to win when the stakes are higher and it does? Did you know that “everyone” will have a boyfriend in sixth grade? And “everyone” will be having sex in tenth grade? Just how will you win those battles if you can’t win one in the toy aisle?
There’s no better time to establish yourself as the authority than now. Or to keep it up as the pleas get more difficult. I just want you to know that you can say no.
One final note: I’m not against toys. I just think it’s wise to be selective. Less is more.