Hi Readers! As I read through the comments about the $9 snowball maker invented by a dad to make sure his sons’ snowballs weren’t too hard-packed, I saw that some folks thought I was a killjoy for scorning it.
So I wrote back to explain that what I really object to is anyone trying to convince parents that an age-old activity is suddenly TOO DANGEROUS. And that, for some reason, THIS GENERATION is more vulnerable to injury/disappointment/disaster than any previous generation, and hence needs to be more protected. And I also object to the fact that someone is making money by assuaging a new parental fear that he himself inflamed.
Thought I’d nailed everything that irked me about he snowball maker. And then I read this fantastic comment from Chris Byrne, a.k.a., “The Toy Guy:”
We have tested this product or one like it, and it’s horrible and unsatisfying for kids to use. The balance is wrong, and the snowballs actually disintegrate before the kids can throw them. We played with kids ages 5-11, and every one of them was frustrated with it for different reasons, mostly because it didn’t work. The one we played with was also very cheap, and younger kids didn’t have the dexterity to use it.
The other problem is that it turns kids into snowball manufacturers, rather than crafters. Now, I know that probably sounds insane, but different snow has different consistencies, and learning how to make a really good snowball comes from getting your hands in the stuff. Do you pack it tight to do damage? Or do you make them quickly and less compressed, for speed? You know what that’s called? Play. This implement effectively removes one whole aspect of creativity and interaction from the play.
I don’t think the readers of this blog are the target demographic for this product, and certainly not from the comments I’ve read. But the important thing with our kids is to look at the whole experience and realize that every time we put a piece of technology or a product between a kid and an experience, that experience is altered–and not always for the best. I know that’s a little heady for a snowball molder, but the principle is sound. The mechanized, perfect snowball takes the individual kid out of the play experience.
Besides, what’s wrong with getting wet and soggy in the snow? Wasn’t that the point? Didn’t you stay out until you were soaked through and the tips of your mittened fingers were covered with ice? Then you got to come inside and get dry and warm again, only to watch the sun go down and the snow turn violet in the last light of the day, and go to bed hoping there would be more snow overnight so you could do it all over? Is there anything that so completely transforms the world to a kid as much as a blanket of snow? But I digress…
I don’t think he digressed at all. I think he’s pretty profound. And perhaps, thanks to him, the conversation will…snowball. (Couldn’t resist!) — L.
Filed under: Helicopter Effect on Kids, Infantilizing young folk, Marketing Madness and Gadgets, Uncategorized | Tagged: Byrne, Chris, imagination, outdoors, outside, play, snow, snowball, snowball maker, toy |