Last Friday, NPR’s Morning Edition aired an interview with Susan Gregory Thomas, author of Buy Buy Baby. Ms. Thomas doesn’t have a lot of nice things to say about the way many companies market their wares to children. She particularly takes to task the notion that electronic features and “educational toys” enhance or encourage early learning.
The interview is excellent, and we agree with what Ms. Thomas has to say. Many of her comments echo statements I’ve heard from Step2 product designers over the past fifteen years. I’ve never met Ms. Thomas, but I think she’d get along with us pretty well.
Step2 products typically focus on what we call the “open-ended” play experience. As Dotti Foltz, our vice president of marketing communications (and a former schoolteacher) says, “Our products allow the child to direct the play experience rather than having the toy direct the experience.” We believe that’s what a good toy should do.