Kids Talk: Gender and Play

Parker Barry

Kids see the pink and blue aisles in the stores. They are bombarded with marketing telling them what girls play and what boys play. But how much of a difference do they see when they play? We talked to a few kids to ask them about the differences in boys and girls and how they play.

What do boys like to play?

  • Ike, 6: Boys like Wii games and stuff, and boy dolls like wrestling guys.
  • Tara, 8: Boys like to play tag. I know some of the boys in my class play capture games. They like to play football, too.
  • Gillian, 10: A lot of times boys like to play sports games or really violent video games, but not all of them.

What do girls like to play?

  • Ike, 6: Girls like dolls and stuff. They kind of like Wii games, but dolls is what they usually play.
  • Tara, 8: We mostly just talk and hang out. We’ll play with stuffed animals. We make up stories about how they get to be friends and what they do.
  • Gillian, 10: Once you get to an older age, it’s not the “princess” stuff anymore. I’ve met a lot of girls that are into singers/musicians and TV shows. It isn’t always princess stuff like when we were younger.

What about you? What do you like to play?

  • Ike, 6: I like to play LEGOS the most.
  • Tara, 8: Sometimes I like to play tag, too. When we play in the neighborhood, we play like we’re orphans and we’re trying to survive in the streets. Storms come and things.
  • Gillian, 10: I like Minecraft, Lego Bionicle toys and Transformers. I am also really into spy gear, camping and gardening.

What’s different about “boy” toys and “girl” toys?

  • Ike, 6: I don’t know that answer. Boy toys look more scary, and girl toys look sweet and nice.
  • Tara, 8: Usually boy toys are action figures — Ninja Turtles and cars. Girl toys are usually dolls and stuffed animals.
  • Gillian, 10: Boys get into stuff that is more violent, like games and sports, and girls tend to like the “pretty pop star” things or pretend to be a movie star and dress up.

How do you feel about toys that are changed somehow to make them more “girly” — like pink LEGOs?

  • Ike, 6: I don’t feel very good about that because they look like Mega Bloks people.
  • Tara, 8: I think it’s good. I don’t really play with LEGOs, but I like that they have Nerf guns that are girl-style now.
  • Gillian, 10: I’m OK with it because I know there are some toys that are more “boyish” too. They made the girl LEGOs for those girls that like that stuff. I’m OK with girl LEGOs, but that’s not what I’m going to be playing with.

Do you really think there’s a difference in how boys and girls play?

  • Ike, 6: The boys and the girls played the same kinds of games at the Butterfly Garden (a forest kindergarten program). We played tag, and sometimes we even played dolls. It was fun.
  • Tara, 8: I guess not, really. I play with regular Nerf guns and I don’t think I’m playing with a “boy” toy. “Boy” toys can be for girls, and “girl” toys can be for boys.
  • Gillian, 10: There are always some, like me, that will fit in with both boys and girls. But there are boys that only like to play with boys, and girls that like to play with girls. There is a difference in how they play. A lot of times when I play with the boys we pretend to be in a war and battle. The boys make it more “real.” Girls like to act like it’s just a game and don’t take it too seriously. Or take LEGOs, they make the girl LEGO stuff that is “made” for girls, but girls may also like the other regular LEGOs as well. It may seem like the girls will like the “girlie” LEGOs, but that’s not always the case, like me — I like the “boy” LEGOs.


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