Homeschooling     Hot Topics     Home and Family     Family Fun    

Playground social network on hold

How will kids learn about new toys and games without playgrounds – the first social networks?

How will kids learn about new toys and games without playgrounds

The first “playground social network” moment I recall occurred in my third-grade year. A brand-new show called Happy Days had aired the night before (according to Google, it was Tuesday, January 15th, 1974). Everybody was talking about it. Kids were assuming the roles of Fonzie, Ritchie, Ralph, Potsie and the other characters. (The “cool kid” decided I would be Potsie, “the singing nerd.” He, of course, was the Fonz.) Some of my classmates hadn’t yet seen it, and I felt sorry for them. 

That summer, a girl at a playground repeatedly sang the international hit “The Streak,” which I’d not heard. I made sure to listen to the radio even more, so I could catch this globally popular novelty song about a man running around naked and causing a stir.

READ MORE: Hudson Valley's Best Playgrounds

The first time I saw a Pet Rock? A Rubik’s cube? On the playground. I can’t imagine learning of these things anywhere else. (I don’t remember any TV commercials for them.)

Despite dizzying advances in tech, the playground is still the “social network” for kids, especially youngsters who’ve not yet signed on to social media – six, seven, eight, and nine-year-olds. These kids’ ability to influence their peers is unparalleled and a little mysterious. Congregation places for children are both proving grounds and launch pads for all number of products. Brandishing of a beloved, new toy from a pocket, or word-of-mouth about a video game, are still far more effective promotional tools than multimillion-dollar campaigns.

Yet Covid-19 has closed down many of these gathering spots, leaving toy makers to worry: where kids will discover the next Silly Bandz, Fijit Spinners, or Beanie Babies?

Richard Gottlieb of Global Toy News and Gerrick Johnson Toy & Leisure Analyst for BMO Capital Markets are concerned, and not just about their bottom line. As modern-day versions of toymakers, they also deeply appreciate how these interactions foster friendships and enrich interactions between young people. Like all of us, they’re looking forward to an end to the pandemic for many reasons.

More Homeschooling

  • Keep kids learning during summer

    3 Fun, Easy Ways

    With school out, summertime brings long, carefree days of play and fun. With a little thought and a few supplies, summer is a perfect opportunity to revitalize their innate love of learning that may be a bit squashed after a year of academic pressures, tests and schedules. read more »
  • 6 tips to mitigate mental health risks for youth

    The surgeon general highlight the urgent need to address Youth Mental Health Crisis

    Today’s kids are experiencing unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety at home, school and in their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic, which affected kids in all those places, only exacerbated the problem. read more »
  • How to prevent cyberbullying with technology

    Who is at risk and what you can do

    Cyberbullying is becoming more prevalent among children and teens, as young people now spend more time on phones, computers and digital devices. About 6 in 10 teens have been bullied or harassed online, according to Pew Research Center. read more »
  • Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Homeschool Naturalist Program

    Adventure Awaits Students Ages 6-9

    The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Homeschool Naturalist Program for children ages 6-9 has quickly become one of the Nature Museum’s most beloved programs. Originally created out of the needs of families undertaking distance/learning, the program has proved so popular it has remained in place by demand. read more »
  • Indoor spots for teens to play

    Older kids need exercise too

    Teens need places to go that aren't lame and won't bore them to tears. We have the best in the Valley listed just for you. read more »
  • World's No. 1 STEAM Program Launches New STEM/STEAM Book Series

    New Challenge Island chapter book series with a spectacular, hands-on STEM/STEAM twist!

    Challenge Island has been providing kids with award-winning STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) learning adventures for almost two decades. On National Stem Day (Nov. 8), the magic of the world's No. 1 STEAM program will combine with the magic of reading to launch the first book in the Challenge Island STEAM book series. read more »
  • Mother Shares Her Journey with Heroin-Addicted Daughter

    Read the gripping new book about this family

    September is National Recovery Month and one mom has shared her journey with her daughter struggling with addiction. read more »
  • Learn How to Help Your Struggling Adolescents Navigate Change and Overcome Anxiety

    Parenting expert Erica Komisar has a new book that can assist you

    Adolescence is a notoriously complicated time for kids as well as their parents. Plus, the epidemic of mental health disorders in young people has made parenting today even more challenging. But it’s not too late. Parents of adolescents can still have a profound impact on the health and well-being of their children. read more »
  • The Mama Bear Effect Launches New Resource to Combat Child Sexual Abuse

    Parents of young children and those with special education needs now have a free tool to educate children about their bodies and boundaries

    Parents, caregivers, teachers, and therapists now have a new tool to educate the most vulnerable population of children, those who need specialized assistance with learning and communication. read more »
  • How to help high-achieving students manage stress

    Tips and insight for parents

    School administrators at Howard County Public Schools (HCPS) in Maryland were surprised to learn that high-achieving students wanted to get rid of class rank—a measure of student success that weighs higher-level classes differently when calculating grade point average. The class ranking system created an unnecessary burden, students said, and discouraged them from taking the classes they really wanted. read more »