Marvel Heroes Super Discs – Are they ruining our children?
Now that I have your attention, my short answer is no, they are not. But this recent Woollies collectible that has kids and their mums in a Hulk-stalking frenzy has got me thinking. I’ve been watching with interest the increasing number of Facebook posts from fellow mums asking their friends to help complete their kids’ Marvel sets. These posts have also appeared on buy/swap/sell pages, and some entrepreneurial types are even selling some of the rarer discs. I think this is proof that there are parents (mostly mums I think) out there who will do whatever it takes to help their kids complete their sets. I wonder though, if we’ve taken things too far? While I don’t necessarily feel that every activity should be a learning experience, I do wonder if by completing these sets for our children, they are missing out on some valuable life lessons.
When I was a kid, we each had a stamp collection. I remember being the proud owner of a lovely purpose-designed folder, which I had filled with stamps from around the world, all neatly organized into groups. I remember receiving small packs of stamps from my family on special occasions, which I would then gleefully and methodically add to my collection. The satisfaction of filling a row was always worth the wait. We would also collect stamps from letters, and ask friends and neighbours (like eccentric old Mrs Mac across the road from Grandma’s house) to put theirs aside for us. We would of our own volition, ask grown-ups if they could help add to our collection, and we would dutifully check in with them from time to time, often rewarded with a small handful of stamps to add to our sets. A friend of mine just reminded me yesterday how we would have to soak off the stamps from the envelope, and we wondered if the new adhesive-backed stamps came off so easily. Collecting stamps took time and commitment, and for many was (and still is) a hobby spanning a lifetime. Marvel discs? Not so much.
I’ve been reflecting on the life lessons learned from growing collections as a kid. We had sticker collections, stamp collections, rubber collections and more. It made gift shopping easy for our parents, and gave us special interests we could share with our friends. We learned patience and commitment. We learned the art of negotiation and compromise. We learned that if we wanted something, we had to find creative solutions, and that sometimes good things were worth waiting for. And because of the time and effort that went into growing our collections, we took pride in them and treasured them.
I asked Miss Nearly-Ten why kids needed their parents’ help with completing their Marvel disc sets. Her words were “It always ends in disaster”, and “they’re banned at school anyways”.
There’s a couple of further questions that come to mind here. Have kids lost the art of negotiation? Are they lacking the skills to reach an outcome that is considered mutually beneficial? Is it just easier to let Mum and Dad sort it out? And maybe more controversially – should schools lift the ban on fad toys so that kids can have the opportunity to take matters back into their own hands? What do you think?
By Dr Nicole Grant from Gateway Therapies