Kids and toy choices

SEEN THIS MORNING: Girls, boys & toys
May 12, 2008 9:00:00 PM PDT
Girls are supposed to favor toys that are soft and cuddly. Boys: things that are more rough and tumble. Now, a new study shows a child's toy preferences could be hard-wired. Eyewitness News reporter Lucy Yang explains.

A room filled with toys!

Yet sisters Emily and Lauren pretty much stick with the girlie ones, like dolls.

Their brother Anthony prefers boy toys, like trucks or things he can put into action.


Their mom says even when Anthony goes for his sister's toys, his creative play has a boy spin.

"Playing with Emily's doll house or Emily's castle...there's the princess eating someone," mom Anna Maria Caccamo says.

Now, a new study suggests a child's toy preferences might be hard-wired.

Researchers at Emory University gave male and female monkeys, gender-specific toys, and captured their play on tape.

The females preferred the cuddly, stuffed animals. The males preferred toys with moveable parts.

"Even with the stuffed toys they're not using it in an active way, they're using it as something that is not just soft and nurturing," says Dr. Pio Andreotti from Long Island College Hospital.

Dr. Pio Andreotti, from Long Island College Hospital, says it's an interesting experiment, as an animal study can avoid societal pressures about gender-specific toys and focus on the role biology may play.

Since other research has shown boys are rigid in their choices and girls are more flexible, a study like this can help parents and educators be more mindful of expanding a child's world of play.

"What do you do to help them make alternative choices..How do you expose them to different things," says Dr. Andreotti.

Experts say expanding a child's world of play to go beyond sexual stereotypes can influence career choices down the road.