Lego is one of the toy companies that are known across the world for its simplicity and high quality. The company offers a range of series for building constructions from plastic bricks that can be connected in different ways. All the parts can be retaken and reused to shape buildings, vehicles, and robots. The review of Lego’s official website shows that customers can shop by themes, interests, age, price, and other categories. As one of the largest toy companies, Lego makes a positive impact on child development, including fine motor skills, creative thinking, and problem-solving, but it generates gender stereotypes.
The intellectual growth of children composes the core of their cognitive development. As stated by Piaget, the founder of the cognitive development theory, the ability to understand objects is a key to effectively functioning and interacting with the environment (Carey, Zaitchik, & Bascandziev, 2015). When an infant learns that a brick can make a noise or be attached to another piece, he or she acquires valuable knowledge about the surrounding world. For example, a 3-year-old child is expected to recognize the properties of objects by having some personal experience. In this connection, Lego helps children in their cognitive development.
The development of creative thinking can be noted as the main benefit of Lego as it inspires children to release their potential. For example, customers who are interested in robotics or cars can play to build humanoid figures that can drive, walk, and even meow. Lego Mindstorms EV3 and Boost Creative Toolbox are examples of robot toys. The way these toys are promoted is free of gender stereotypes: there are a girl and boy who play together. Another important point of developing creative skills is related to stimulating child curiosity and imagination, which are essential for problem-solving. For example, children can use their unique ways of incorporating their world visions. In other words, Lego promotes spatial skills as the ability to understand three-dimensional objects.
For those who are not yet ready to construct complicated figures, Lego offers more easy options that can be found by age, popularity, product types, and so on. Lego Duplo series is an example of easier modules, such as modular playhouses, creative animals, or superheroes for children of 3-5 ages. Physical development refers to body growth, including all the systems, such as nervous, muscular, integumentary, and others. Fine motor skills are necessary for the coordination of small actions that are performed by toes, eyes, and fingers. Lego’s bright, well-crafted, and varied bricks look attractive not only for children but also adults. Children grasp building bricks, use them in a variety of ways, and explore their shapes and colors. This feature can be especially important for toddlers, who need to develop fine motor skills. These skills require precision and control, as well as the use of body muscles, which extend playing options and independence in terms of life skills.
As for psychosocial functions that are impacted positively by Lego, they imply the ability of children to interact with other people. Lego seems to provide the support for the process of socialization through free and structured play. The fans of Harry Potter, for example, can play together to build Hogwarts Astronomy Tower, while the Lego Education series offers the kits for creating machine sets. According to Bandura’s social learning theory, children learn by observing the behaviors of others. When one kid plays with Lego, the other one can easily learn how to do it by observing the process of construction and understanding the expected outcomes.
It is useful that the company focuses on children of different ages, varying the size and complexity of buildings, which allows meeting the needs of more customers. For instance, the Early Simple Machines Set is for kids older than five years, and it contains 102 pieces. We Do 2.0 Core Set includes 280 details, and it targets children older than seven years. Both of the mentioned kits engage children in studying designing solutions and modeling. The more complicated options also have instructions with pictures, written text, and screenshots.
However, Lego seems to contribute to gender stereotypes by distinguishing between toys for boys and girls. Even though the website does not explicitly have special sections for males and females, some of its toys can be identified as stereotyped. There are Emma’s Fashion Shop, Olivia’s Cupcake Café, and Olivia’s Flower Garden, which are feminine by nature. Shopping, gardening, and visiting cafes are categorized as activities for girls. The same Friends section contains no toys that are labeled by male names. Therefore, such toys can impact how children perceive themselves and others, linking it with gender differences. The emergence of sexist ideas, such as boys are better than girls or vice versa, can be the result of gender-stereotyped toys.
To conclude, Lego toys are helpful in improving children’s cognitive, physical, and psychosocial functions. By creating various figures from bricks, they practice fine motor skills, as well as develop creativity and problem-solving. Also, children can share their toys to explore the world and build large constructions together. Nevertheless, Lego should work to address its current gender-stereotyped issues, by, for example, adding more toys that would be gender-neutral.
Carey, S., Zaitchik, D., & Bascandziev, I. (2015). Theories of development: In dialog with Jean Piaget. Developmental Review, 38, 36-54.