Is Gender Still an Issue for Parents’ Toy Preferences for Their Sons and Daughters?

Males and females are socialized diff erently. Children, beginning from the very early years of their lives, learn what females and males are supposed to be like and what they are supposed to do. Because of gender socialization, boys and girls grow up in diff erent psychological environments that shape their view of the world and their ways of dealing with problems (Zimbardo, 1992). A child makes the first interaction with her parents. Therefore, parents have the major impact on their children’s learning to behave consistent with their gender. Children, from their parents, learn what it means to be male or female. There are numerous ways to teach gender roles to children such as encouraging gender appropriate behaviors whereas discouraging gender inappropriate ones; guiding, modeling, and making suggestions (Witt, 1997). One way of teaching gender roles to children is to direct and encourage them to play with materials that are supposed to be “appropriate” to their gender. Studies have demonstrated that parents have diff erent expectations and preferences for their daughters and sons. For instance; parents are more likely to classify the toys according to gender, and they consider this classification while purchasing toys to their children and playing together with them (Frisch, 1977; Fagot, 1978; Schau, Khan, Diepold & Cherry, 1980; Peretti & Sydney, 1984; O’Brien & Huston, 1985; Eisenberg, Wolchik, Hermandez& Pasternack, 1985; Caldera, Huston& O’Brien, 1989; Raag & Rackliff , 1998 Kim, 2002; Arıkan & Karaca, 2004; Cinel, 2006). In addition, the research shows that there are similarities between the play and toy preferences of parents and their children (Snow, Jacklin & Maccoby, 1983; Peretti & Sydney, 1984; Idle, Wood& Desmaris, 1993). Previous research shows that feminine toys tend to promote the development of verbal skills (Serbin & Connor, 1979; Miller, 1987) and nurturing behaviors (Liss, 1983; Miller, 1987; Caldera & Sciaraff a, 1998), whereas masculine toys tend to support visual & spatial skills (Serbin & Connor, 1979; Miller, 1987; Robert & Heroux, 2004). Parents’ classification of toys in terms of gender may aff ect their children’s preferences for play and it may strengthen diverse cognitive, verbal and social skills in girls and boys (Miller, 1987; Cherney & London, 2006). Wolfgang, Stannard & Jones (2003) found out meaningful diff erence between the Lego performance of the preschool children and their successes of mathematics in the secondary and high school in their study. Therefore, playing with toys according to gender may limit children’s development (Miller, 1987; Campenni, 1999), because feminine and masculine toys have diff erent functional dimensions (Miller, 1987). Since parents are the basic individuals who choose and provide toys for their children, the toy preference of them has got importance in terms of child’s development (Rheingold & Cook, 1975; Peretti & Sydney, 1984; Idle, Wood & Desmaris, 1993; Campenni, 1999). The aim of this study is to investigate Turkish parents’ toy preferences in terms of their child’s gender. The participants of the study were 156 parents (n= 92 mothers, n= 64 fathers). The data were collected through a questionnaire. The questionnaire was developed by the researchers. The first part of the questionnaire was related to demographic information of the participants. The second part included questions related to the children’s toy and play preferences and their play styles with their parents. Finally, the last part included the questions related to gender beliefs regarding toys. This part involved grouping twelve toys into one of the three categories: masculine, feminine and gender neutral. The questionnaire was applied to parents in diff erent toy stores in Ankara. The parents were informed about the aim of the study and its duration. Then, the parents who accepted to participate in the study were asked the questionnaire questions.
3rd International Congress on Early Childhood Education, (12 - 15 Eylül 2012)


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Citation Formats
F. Erden, “Is Gender Still an Issue for Parents’ Toy Preferences for Their Sons and Daughters?,” Adana, Türkiye, 2012, p. 327, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: