Toys, Games, and Gender Socialization

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 5
Words: 1102
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College

Gender denotes social-cultural explanations concerning sex. The main question is: How do toys and games influence gender socialization? This is important because the manner in which people ought to act as females or males is socially instilled and defined. Individuals are socialized from their formative years as children where they learn to connect particular gender attributes with their sex, and departure from such traits is deemed deviant.

Toys and games play a considerable role in socializing people in line with their sex from childhood. In society, it is anticipated that children mature to become what they have been trained through interrelations right from birth. Howie and Campbell (2015) have established that in games, boys are taught to be sporty, rough, aggressive, and play using toys that resemble, for instance, policemen, guns, and trolleys, to mention a few. On the contrary, girls are trained to be gentle, caring, coy, loving, sympathetic, and have an inclination to domestic tasks. Toys bought for young girls include baby dolls and cooking sets. Gender socialization arises in all aspects of people’s lives from their childhood toys and games and begins with active teachings provided by parents.

Toys and Games

In nearly all cultures, girls and boys start gender socialization at very young ages. Toys and games are some of the significant components employed in the gender socialization of children. Play is a fundamental approach through which children are taught how they are supposed to act. Manufacturers of toys use color and packaging to differentiate between the ones meant for boys and those for girls. Toys for the boys are made using bold colors such as black, blue, and red, which are associated with aggressiveness and roughness (Kollmayer, Schultes, Schober, Hodosi, & Spiel, 2018).

On the other hand, girls’ toys and their packaging use pastel colors that include purple and pink. Boys and girls appear to like different colors. Toys that are meant for both girls and boys are either neutral in color or have boys’ colors such as blue. Society teaches children the significance of using toys. If a child happens to be in a toy store, they have a tendency to head right to the sections that have colors appropriate for their gender.

In line with the social learning theory, children assume gender roles from the teachings of their parents, school, and mass media. One approach through which parents influence gender socialization is by the toys that they buy for the boys and the ones they purchase for the girls. Kollmayer et al. (2018) affirm that parents often buy boys’ toys that teach them diverse male activities. Similarly, the toys purchased for the girls make them learn different tasks.

For example, by buying a toy that resembles a race car, the parent could be teaching their child to develop a liking for cars and racing. From the use of toys, such a child could be socialized to believe that they will actually excel in car racing when they grow up, and this influences their future career choices. According to the social learning theory, children come to consider some activities normal for a given gender out of the lessons they receive from the different agents of socialization (Kollmayer et al., 2018). That form of learning is ubiquitous in society. Therefore, the concern of gender is a powerful social maker that differentiates people through categorization into the strong dichotomy of female and male.

While children are playing role games, they engage in the selection and acknowledgment of the tasks to engage in, with the social gender culture being the foundation for their choices and recognition. Therefore, in the course of selecting and identifying different roles, children familiarize themselves and discover social gender role standards. According to their study, Painter and Ferrucci (2017) have found that, attributable to their age, young boys and girls often make superficial judgments and recognize gender attributes based on visual images. Moreover, in games, children playing the roles of fathers act, most probably, from what they have learned through socialization with their dad at home. The ones simulating mothers are usually guided by interactions with their mum.

If young boys and girls choose to play home games, females will mainly be inclined to feminine tasks such as hairdressing. One girl may use a wooden stick and appear as though she is applying lipstick or eye pencil in front of a mirror, while another might use a toy blower to make her hair. In such a game, if a boy comes up, he may decide to poke one of the girls with a stick while behaving like a doctor who is giving an injection to a patient or a policeman who is about to gun down a robber. In such games, children socialize through practicing a broad scope of activities (Howie & Campbell, 2015).

Differences involving gender cultures sway the manner in which boys and girls communicate and behave in their games. Such differentiation starts right in early childhood. They are then reinforced in the games that children play, which have a crucial role in their socialization into female or male inclinations.

For instance, when boys and girls undertake numerous activities in their games, there is not just the promotion of personal relationships but also tasks that stick in their minds and influence their later life. On the contrary, boys have a tendency to engage in competitive sports with diverse objectives and tactics. Such differences make boys and girls abide by the rules for communication and roles that vary significantly to the extent that they influence their later lives in adulthood (Painter & Ferrucci, 2017).

Through imitation of the language of adults in their games, children usually portray the division of labor in traditional families. Therefore, boys mainly take charge of practices outside the house while girls engage in activities within the household. In fact, such functionalities of the games result in a possibility of gender division, and in the process of simulating adult language and behavior, children progressively build boundaries that exist in their mental world.


Gender refers to social-cultural elucidations concerning sex. The manner in which individuals ought to operate as females or males is socially inculcated and defined. Gender socialization occurs in all facets of people’s lives from their childhood toys and games and commences with active training given by parents. According to the social learning theory, boys and girls assume gender roles from socialization in school and mass media over and above their parents. Toys and games make children abide by the rules of communication and roles that differ considerably, which go a long way to influencing their later lives.


Howie, L., & Campbell, P. (2015). Fantasy sports: Socialization and gender relations. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 39(1), 61-77.

Kollmayer, M., Schultes, M. T., Schober, B., Hodosi, T., & Spiel, C. (2018). Parents’ judgments about the desirability of toys for their children: Associations with gender-role attitudes, gender-typing of toys, and demographics. Sex Roles, 79(6), 329-341.

Painter, C., & Ferrucci, P. (2017). Gender games: The portrayal of female journalists on House of Cards. Journalism Practice, 11(4), 493-508.