Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Age Recommendations for Toys

By Christina VanGinkel

Toy shopping can be fun for both the shopper and the recipient, if the shopper is careful enough to purchase toys that will fit the intended age of the receiver. I have grown accustomed to trusting the recommended age guidelines on products, with a bit of additional knowledge in regards to the actual child who will be playing with the gift. For example, I know a four year old who puts everything imaginable in his mouth, with toys being no exception. I have always refrained from giving him items such as Lego's, even though they are recommended for ages much younger, simply because I do not want to be responsible for his choking on one of the blocks. My grandson, on the other hand, is just over two years old and I intend to purchase him Lego's this holiday season, as he already has a couple of sets and my daughter said he plays with them obsessively and has never once placed one of them in his mouth, or any of his other toys for that matter.

As I said, I have grown accustomed to trusting the recommended age guidelines, but I learned an important fact about these guidelines placement when it comes to advertising, in this particular instance, online. I entered an online store's clearance section, which was separated by type of toy and age. When I entered the section marked toddler, I was slightly surprised to see several toys that I was sure were not intended for a toddler, not even an advanced one. Clicking on the product itself and reading the description which included the recommended age, which was three years old by the way, it had an additional not by the seller that in their opinion it would be much more appropriate for a child closer to the age of five and up. While the product was listed correctly according to the recommendation of whomever sets these guidelines, the online store had taken the time to post a not with it that in their opinion they would be cautious with the toy being used by a child of that age.

While I am sure that a small toy store may have knowledgeable staff that would impart the same wisdom to some of their shoppers, this online store was making sure that any intended purchaser was aware of their opinion about the appropriateness of the toy (Which matched my first impression by the way!), for its intended age group.

I learned a valuable lesson from this simple tactic the online store took. To trust my judgment in addition to reading labels, and if shopping online, to be sure to read any additional notes the storefront may have taken the time to add to a products description. While some people may feel that Internet shopping lacks 'a personal touch', in this instance I found the online shopping scenario to take on a very personal attitude with what they were selling, going above and beyond what they had to do. Shop online this holiday season and remember that there are real people behind the counters, the same as in any other store!

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