Growing up as a Toys ‘R’ Us kid, I remember my mom taking me to the big toy store to wander the aisles and look at all the toys and games they sold.
Then around Christmas time, the toy catalogue would come, and I would flip through it, circling all the things I wanted.
This year will be the first Christmas without Toys ‘R’ Us, and now that it’s gone, kids won’t get the opportunity to go to a store dedicated to growing their imaginations. Walmart and Target sell toys, but it’s usually just a few aisles in a huge store. Amazon is a completely different animal.
It’s strange to think there will be kids who grow up without knowing who Geoffrey the Giraffe is or the joy of walking into a supermarket-like toy store.
Instead, they’ll have the experience of going online and adding toys to their Amazon wishlists or discovering new toys by watching commercials.
Everything is digital now, so it makes sense that choosing and buying toys is now done online, but a little bit of the magic is lost.
There’s no more thumbing through catalogues or writing your list down to send to Santa (or your parents).
Instead, it’s the impersonal act of clicking a button and adding an item to a digital list.
According to CNN, the downfall of Toys ‘R’ Us came when Walmart began undercutting them in diaper prices. The nail in the coffin was Toys ‘R’ Us’s inability to keep up with their competitor’s online presence.
Toys ‘R’ Us wasn’t about going online and staring at a screen.
It was about the experience of going into the store and having fun while looking for toys and gifts.
Their failure to sell toys online was a huge business misstep, but I think the business suffered for other reasons.
One of those reasons was that kids don’t seem to play with toys as much as they used to. According to a National Trust survey, children today spent only half the amount of time their parents did playing outside.
They no longer seem to value playing with physical toys, and instead, most of them play with tablets or phones. Common Sense Media reported that kids under nine spend two hours a day on digital devices, and 42 percent of kids under eight have their own tablets.
I think kids have lost the art of playing with a simple toy and allowing their imaginations to explore.
This past summer, I babysat a few kids who had Amazon Fire tablets that they were mesmerized by.
The greatest memories of my childhood wasn’t beating the next level of a video game or watching the funniest YouTube video. It was playing with chalk or riding my Razor scooter with my friends.
The downfall of Toys ‘R’ Us reflects the rise in technology and the fall of a simple childhood.
When I was in elementary and middle school, I was still playing with Polly Pockets, but today’s kids are concerned with social media and portraying a certain image online.
I’m glad that I grew up as a Toys ‘R’ Us kid and didn’t have my head buried in a digital device. I was able to grow my imagination and enjoy a simple childhood.
As much as I enjoyed my digital-free childhood, I have to admit that, nowadays, it can be hard to separate myself from my digital device.
However, despite the dependency on digital devices, there are many ways individuals and society as a whole can escape the digital realm.
If you eat dinner with the same group of friends or your family, decide as a group to put the phones away during your meal. Another great way is to set aside time to shut your phone off and do something you enjoy, such as reading a book or going for a bike ride.
Just turning off your device and allowing yourself to reflect and think about something other than social media or a game can be so refreshing.
It relieves the pressure of the fast-paced world we live in and gets you back into the carefree mindset of a Toys ‘R’ Us kid.