Toy Hazards: An Overview of Human Factors and Toy Trends in 2022
Toys are not just a source of entertainment for kids — they’re a means of nurturing their creativity, imagination, and cognitive skills. However, it's crucial to ensure that toys available for purchase are fun and safe for kids. With so many toy trends emerging in recent years, keeping track of potential hazards associated with them can be overwhelming. That's where “human factors” experts come in — they assess how children interact with toys and identify potential hazards. In this blog post based on the WiT webinar “Safe Play: Human Factors’ Impact on Toy Safety,” you’ll learn about the latest toy trends and their associated hazards.
Overview of Human Factors
Have you ever wondered how toy manufacturers ensure their products are safe for children to play with? “Human factors” is an area of psychology that focuses on the relationship between people and their environments. Experts in human factors use child development and anthropometric data to assess how children interact with toys, aiming to reduce the risk of injury and potential product recalls. By taking into account a child's developmental milestones, physical abilities, cognitive understanding, emotional skills, and more, human factors professionals can identify potential hazards and prevent harm. Read on to dive into recent toy trends, and corresponding hazards.
Social Environmental Good
Over the past few years, sustainability and ecological impact have become front-and-center concerns regarding our consumption habits. Naturally, this trend has also infiltrated the world of toys, and nowadays, you can find many environmentally friendly and entertaining toys. However, when buying these types of toys, keep in mind the various hazards they can introduce. For example, wooden toys are prone to splintering. Additionally, toys made of natural rubber can break down when exposed to heat, becoming a choking hazard for younger kids, or the chemical additives to the rubber may irritate the skin.
Sensory toys typically have light-up playthings that let children express their changing moods. These toys may also include fidget play. Some hazards here may be accessible batteries that become choking hazards or cause chemical burns. If the toy makes sounds, it could have sound levels that are too high, potentially causing hearing damage. And lastly, plush toys are prone to breaking, and the stuffing or parts can be a choking hazard.
The Great Escape category includes travel-ready toys, international-themed toys, and augmented and virtual reality products. Oftentimes these toys have small parts that can detach, or even powerful magnets that children may swallow, which can cause intestinal blockage. There are also potential privacy and cybersecurity concerns that may arise with using augmented and virtual reality toys. It's essential to consider how the data collected by these products is handled and secured to ensure child safety and privacy. It’s important to consider whether the toy companies assoicated with these prodcuts use encrypted storage or sell information to third parties.
When it comes to toys inspired by TV shows, movies, or social media influencers, it's important to keep in mind the age range that the toy is designed for. While it may be tempting to buy a toy that your child has seen on their favorite streaming service or from a social media influencer, it's crucial to consider the potential risks. Choking hazards can be a major concern with these types of toys, especially for younger children.
Next Generation Creators
This category of toys empowers children to unleash their creativity and share their own unique creations. However, it's important to be mindful of potential safety hazards. For example, some art supplies may contain toxic chemicals or paints that may have lead. Additionally, some kits may come with tools that are not suitable for young children or could be mishandled, leading to injuries. Finally, when it comes to sharing photos and videos of their creations, it's important to consider who has access to their content and how their data is being stored and used.
While toys are an essential part of childhood, it's crucial to ensure that they are not only fun but also safe. Different toy trends bring their own unique risks, from choking hazards to toxic chemicals. By being aware of these risks and considering your child's age, developmental stage, and abilities, you can make informed decisions when selecting toys for your little ones.
This blog is inspired by WiT Webinar ““Safe Play: Human Factors’ Impact on Toy Safety” Watch it on WiT’s Video Library HERE.