Saturday, February 16, 2013

Child Development ... Toys

Chapter three in our textbooks discusses developmental psychology from conception to old age. To me the most interesting part of this chapter was about infant development, in particular their developing perception. This spurred my interest because it seems like it could be useful information to apply to my toy design class. The book states "Newborns can distinguish contrasts, shadows and edges ... Visual focus range is only about 8 inches ... Within a couple months, they show evidence of depth perception" (78 wade) This is likely the justification of the widespread use of primary colors and contrasting colors on kids toys. Also the chapter went on to say differences in sleeping arrangements can alter a child's development. Some children sleep with their mothers for their first years while other parents try to teach independence by using a crib. Obviously the latter being a more western method of parenting. I predict the western method would also include many more toy purchases in order to occupy the children on their own. This would make them a more lucrative segment of the population to design toys for. The chapter continues onto the topic of separation and security, how it can be trauma to a child. The idea of contact comfort was explored by Mary and Harry Harlow through experiments with lab monkeys. They found infants have a need to cuddle. This is a need that had been exploited by designers for generations through the creation of plush toys.  Just last week I attended the international toy fair at the Javits center and saw this on display. Plush toys are now designed to maximize cuteness and cuddliness; everything is fat and round with big eyes set extremely close. The toy fair was an impressive event that put many psycological tactics on display, it was interesting to hear them covered in this chapter.

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