Research has shown that emotional intelligence (EQ) — including interpersonal competence, self-awareness, and social awareness — is a better predictor of a child’s future success than IQ. EQ is heavily influenced by childhood experiences, and play has long been an effective outlet and learning tool for kids, helping them to cope, build resilience, practice empathy, and manage their emotions.
The Toy Association has been tracking the growing social-emotional learning (SEL) trend in the toy space. Earlier this year, the group’s trends team named “Back to Basics” as a top trend to watch for 2023. The trend looks at how parents are turning to toys and games to instill healthy mental habits in their children, from mindfulness and good sleep habits to increased social-emotional awareness through nurturing, imaginative, and classic play.
Tied to that is a desire among parents to teach their kids about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) through toys and play, with new research revealing that nearly half (47%) of millennial parents will consider whether a toy highlights different races, cultures, identities, and abilities when purchasing toys for their kids this holiday season.
Conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of The Toy Association, the survey of 1,000 U.S. parents also found that half of parents have purchased toys to teach their kids social skills, while parents under age 40 are using toys to educate their children about kindness and anti-bullying (42%) and to help them regulate their emotions (44%).
The full survey results will be unveiled by The Toy Association during its Toy Trends Briefing, taking place at Toy Fair on Saturday, Sept. 30. The session will dive into trends surrounding SEL, mindfulness, kindness, diversity, and many other evolving trends in the toy and youth entertainment space, including the enduring importance of educational toys, a broader range of kidult toy buyers (spanning from tweens to the elderly), pop culture trends, and the impact of the economy on toy shopping budgets this holiday season. The trends team has been tracking and exploring the evolution of the top toy trends of 2023 through ongoing meetings with toy companies and by taking stock of what’s happening in parallel industries, from fashion and design to food and tech.
Nearly half (47%) of millennial parents will consider whether a toy highlights different races, cultures, identities, and abilities when purchasing toys for their kids this holiday season.”
“With Toy Fair taking place at the onset of the holiday shopping season, we are looking forward to providing industry and media with an update on current trends, spotlighting hot holiday toys, offering a sneak peek at a small selection of brand-new products for next year, and unveiling research to help companies plan for a successful 2024,” says Adrienne Appell, Executive Vice President of Marketing Communications at The Toy Association.
The Toy Association’s annual Toy Trends Briefing will take place Saturday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. in Room 1E09-10 at the Javits Center.
A version of this feature was originally published in the 2023 Toy Fair issue of The Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue! Want to receive The Toy Book in print? Click here for subscription options!