Is It Okay For Adults To Play With Toys?


Uriel Pimentel, Staff Reporter

We’ve all had toys over the years; every generation has had an experience owning a toy and loving to play and make their imagination go wild with the toy(s) we had. We eventually transform from a young, developing child to a fully mature adult and doing so, we tend to leave things behind as well as keep many things. There are things that are meant to be left behind while some deserve to be well cherished as long as possible. However, with that in mind, there are things that adults do and like that they have liked since they were kids, which forces the questions: Can adults still like and play with toys? Is it acceptable according to today’s society and standards? 


Jumping right into the cold water, we all know that toys are widely seen as a thing for young boys and girls ranging in ages, we have toys from 0-12 years of age and even toys for young teens. However we don’t see toys for adults, even though a lot of toys can be appropriate for all ages, we generally do not see adults playing with these toys.  When we do, it is usually an adult parent playing with their child. We’ve all had a water gun fight with our entire family and had fun playing with the water toys or maybe one time you had a cook-off with your parents with your pretend food, but do adults actually play with toys when there are no children involved? If so, why do adults do so?


Yes, some adults do indeed play with toys regardless of their age, while there are people who simply collect toys for money or as trophies.  There are adults who do, in fact, buy and collect toys to play with them. The explanation for this can be quite reasonable if you sit and think about the reasons why adults buy and play with toys. First off, adults buy toys they once desired a long time ago but couldn’t have due to financial reasons, adults also buy the toys they once owned during their childhood and play with them in order to feel the joy they experienced when they were young. “Adults feel the happiness and experience of finally being able to play with the toy they have so long desired or to play with the toy they once owned when they were children” (An Adult’s Fancy Often Turns To Childhood Toys, Mildred Jailer, The New York Times). We have all wished to experience something again, whether it was an experience at an amusement park or listening to a song the first time, we all have hoped to experience something like that at least once again. Adults buy the toys they once had or couldn’t own long ago because they want to experience the feelings of having to own them once again, or finally play with the toy that was too expensive for them when they were little.


Secondly, it should be noted that playing with toys helps not just children, but young teens and adults reduce stress and give therapeutic relief while playing. Adults are constantly subjected to the financial and economic stress society has and are always away at work just to afford a living for themselves or household members. Adults today really don’t have many ways to entertain themselves other than media, the majority of entertainment today is heavily aimed towards younger audiences. While parks do offer ways of entertainment like swimming, biking, exercising, many adults simply do not have the freetime on the weekdays to go out of their homes and do such things. While toys are indeed aimed for young people, it should be noted that toys bring a different form of entertainment and distraction compared to watching a show/movie, going to an amusement park, or playing a game. Toys can spark a lot more imagination and creativity than what media can give to a person, media and entertainment today can only manage to focus and execute one thing at a time while toys give you the liberty and freedom to do anything and everything you want with them, which is what fuels the minds of the children and adults who play with them. For example, if you were to watch a superhero film, maybe you wished certain scenes or the story were different for your liking, many kids who play with toys proceed to play with the action figure of the superhero and begin to create scenarios of that movie and create differently new things that are so complex yet fun for a child. That’s why adults still have a love and passion for playing with toys, it makes them feel in control, it makes them feel like nothing can stop them, it makes them create ideas and do boundless things without any restrictions and boundaries. Adults love the sensation of free will, power, and choice, so playing with toys gives them these opportunities that many aren’t able to obtain in the real world because of laws and the standards of society.


A more trained brain that handles and relieves stress at a much better rate always tends to be more productive compared to a brain that doesn’t react and handle stress and problems well. According to “Why it’s good for grown-ups to go play” (Jennifer Wallace, Washington Post), the news articles talk about how scientific research done by Boston College has been showing that playing with toys and participating in activities regardless of age has been evolving over time. What started out as a pacifist way to learn life skills for survival, it has now become an everyday form of entertainment and custom that help us humans (and many animals) to become healthier and more positive while also giving the added benefit of giving knowledge and experience. Another study done by the University of Illinois backs up the fact that playing with toys and participating in activities reduces stress. The research shows that many of the adults and young teens who played with toys had a much better mental health which helped them reduce and combat stress compared to many adults who didn’t entertain themselves other than using social media and watching forms of entertainment such as TV shows and movies. A brain that gets to have free control and let their imagination take over has a much more calm behavior compared to a brain that is just focused on one thing at a time, which is why the study concluded that playing with toys, regardless of age, does indeed create a healthier person.


Society as a whole has been changing drastically over the decades, comparing the world 30 years ago is a whole discussion to talk about for hours. Many things have changed whether it was a social custom, a nationwide problem, fashion, technology, and entertainment. It still continues to do so every day and without a doubt the world will be different 10 or 20 years from now. For example, baseball was once seen as nothing more than child’s play by many of the adult men during the late 1800’s but evolved later to become a famous sport enjoyed by all ages. Another example would be the modern day version of Halloween and Christmas, what was seen ages ago as religious holidays later became holidays associated with children’s entertainment and a way to make kids happy. It has now been evolved once again to include adults as well, many parents recall finding it odd to see adults dressed for Halloween but it has now become a common and normal thing to see. This is very much the same for toys, what was now seen as a custom aimed towards children, it is now a thing that many adults are starting to participate and embrace as it’s not just a form of passion, but also a form of entertainment with benefits of gaining life benefits and skills. 


Going around school and at home I asked nearly 40 different friends, family, and classmates what their opinion was towards teens and adults playing with toys, and if whether or not they were okay with this. In the scenario I used, it was an individual adult (man or woman) playing with an unspecified toy (can be up for decision) alongside another adult or individually. 22 (nearly 56.4%) of those who participated found this a completely normal and good thing to do as nearly all of them agreed that it was nice to do and it’s just an activity there is no harm or malicious intent in it. Next, 11 (around 28.2%) of the participants had mixed feelings towards this as many had scenarios of adults playing with baby or opposite-gender toys, while many of these 11 participants leaned towards more of a “Yes (it’s okay)” side, a few were on the “No (not okay” side. Finally, 6 (15.4%) of the participants concluded that it was not okay for adults and teens to play with toys as it was a “weird” and “uncomfortable” thing for people that age to do. Interestingly enough, all of the 6 participants who said no all suggested more “age-appropriate” hobbies and entertainment like being on social media, playing a sport, or being with friends and family than to participate in childlike activities. While these results only used a small handful of people and results can vary differently with bigger samples and groups, it still gives us an understanding about what people think about this subject.


In the end, regardless of the scientific research and the personal opinion of other people. It is up for your interpretation on whether or not you think it is fine to play with toys. From personal experience, as a graduating senior I still find enjoyment and fun in playing with my Legos and action figures. I definitely feel better and more relieved playing and having private time with my Legos than to be on my phone watching videos for hours. What are your thoughts on this subject?

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Do you believe it is okay for teens/adults to play with toys?


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