Toys and Teens

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Harvard Medical School
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Toys and Teens

Guiding Your Child Through The Adolescent Years
Toys and Teens
Toys and Teens
Learn about the toys your teens might like.
InteliHealth Medical Content
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Toys and Teens

Although children grow up, their desire for toys never seems to go away. Toys for older children are increasingly complex, yet, they still provide hours of enjoyment along with opportunities for learning. Even adults continue to play and learn from toys, but now they call their toys hobbies.

The toys and games available for adolescents (and children of all ages, for that matter) are often expensive. However, the value of a toy should not be related to its price tag. Rather, it should be judged by how well it fits a teen's interests and abilities, and how much it inspires creative play. Many simple, inexpensive toys stimulate the imagination more than fancy expensive ones.

When selecting a toy for anyone, always think safety first. In 2012, an estimated 265,000 children were treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries. Sadly, 11 toy-related deaths were reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Think about the following when shopping for toys:

  • Read and strictly follow labels for age and safety recommendations.
  • Look for toys that carry the seal of approval from the Consumer Product Safety Commission or the letters ASTM, which indicate the product meets national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
  • Remember to include all the correct, properly fitting protective gear that goes with the toy, such as helmets with bicycles.
  • Avoid toys that shoot small objects, which can cause serious injury.
  • Avoid toys that make loud or shrill noises that can damage hearing.

To maximize safety, think not only about the age of the gift recipient, but also about the ages of any other children in the home. Use caution when giving toys with small parts to children who have brothers or sisters younger than 3 years. If any piece of a toy or game fits inside a toilet paper roll, it should be considered a choking hazard for small children.

Adolescence is a time of tremendous physical and mental changes. Teens are learning to be independent and developing their own interests, including, sports, hobbies and scientific activities. They care about their bodies and are physically active. Some gift ideas for adolescents include:

  • Books such as novels, biographies, and books about science, adventure or fantasy
  • Sports equipment: baseball, soccer, basketball, football, tennis
  • Camping equipment: a tent, sleeping bag, hiking backpack
  • Outdoor games: skateboards, scooters, croquet set, badminton or volleyball set, kites
  • Arts and crafts: sewing, knitting, needlework, woodcarving, metalwork, painting, sculpting, ceramics
  • Hobby collections: trading cards, coin folders, stamp books
  • Model cars, boats, trains, airplanes
  • Science materials: compass, microscopes, telescopes, chemistry sets
  • Board games: chess, Othello, Mastermind, Risk, Monopoly, Scrabble, Boggle
  • Entertainment: Music CDs, DVDs, videos, computer games

Last updated August 11, 2014

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