Lego Toys are getting more Violent! Seriously?
A fascinating report from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand claims that Lego toys have become significantly violent over time, and are not as innocent as they used to be.
The study took into consideration the number of Lego sets produced since 1978, the first year a sword, a halberd and a lance – fairly tame weaponry made it to the sets. The research further claims that the number of weapons used in Lego sets has increased significantly since then. In terms of numbers that’s 5 percent of Lego toys back then with at least one weapon compared to 30 percent in Lego sets sold today.
The study’ lead author – Christopher Bartneck conducted two analyses, one that looked at the ratio of traditional Lego bricks to weapons in sets, and the number of Lego sets with new weapons compared to only brick lego sets each year. The other analysis was a survey of potential Lego customers to know their perception on if and how violence in the Lego ecosystem has evolved over time.
Researchers in this study also relied heavily on BrickLink – a Lego fan site and online marketplace that had a comprehensive catalog of every Lego piece released up to 2014, the last updated year of data. But it is important to note that they only took into account those weapons that were smaller and pre-manufactured such as cannons, guns, swords, etc.
Larger weapons that had to be assembled were excluded from this list such as the Death Star, which is obviously a weapon, but a combination of hundreds of pieces of non-weaponry rather than one single piece of weaponry. Weapons weren’t the only thing taken into consideration to suggest the gradual violence in Lego toys, but the company’s imagery as well.
The study claims that that approximately 40 percent of all images in the company’s catalog showcased some sort of violence, with a considerably high number in cases of shooting. What the study didn’t aim to do is tie together Lego toy violence and actual aggression and violence in children.
And even by Bartneck’s own measure, the study is an unusual one, where rather than focusing on the detrimental effects of violent toys and imagery on children, it sought to peruse the level of violence in one of the world’s most loved toys since their inception in 1958. With this study, many Lego buying parents are asking if Lego indeed depicts violence, and short answer is absolutely not!
Considering that Lego toys are often based on other entertainment franchises such as Star Wars, the products do not encourage or promote violence, but the weapon like elements are part of an imaginary/fantasy setting rather than a real-life scenario. Basically if you feel it’s okay to take your kids to watch The Force Awakens, its only right that you let them get as close as possible to the real deal with the movie based action themed video game.
Only you as a parent can exercise discernment, and take precautions to not blow this so called “violent play” out of proportion, especially when it comes to little boys. Fact is that young boys are drawn towards cowboys, robbers, cops and toy soldiers, and this is just the way their wired. Toys, blocks and board games centered around these themes encourage role play and help your child develop an inward moral compass, and are not harmful in any way.
Kids look forward to re-enacting their fantasies and Lego just makes this possible with their modern lineup of toys.