What was the big playground craze when you were a kid?
I remember Clackers, which consisted of two hard plastic balls linked by string, which you had to ..er..clack together. Many children of the 1970's will have a war story about the time they suffered a black eye due to a particularly vigorous game of Clackers.
Once a playground craze gets to the point of being a problem, then many schools will ban it. But if you cut off the head of one craze, another one will surely grow in its place.
Two years ago Doctor Who trading cards were all the rage. Last year the kids couldn't get enough of Crazy Bones. And this year? Well, the makers are predicting that this will be the year of the Thumb Wrestling Federation. Over 300,000 of these battling packs have been sold in the first quarter of 2009, no doubt helped by the fact that they are featured on Children's BBC and the Cartoon Network.
The elements of the successful playground craze are pretty simple:
It must be small - many schools ban children from bringing in personal toys, so a typical craze will involve something tiny enough to be secreted in a school trouser pocket.
It must be cheap - pocket money prices, so parents won't feel too bad about capitulating to their child's pleas.
It must be easy to play - the great thing about Crazy Bones is that kids could make up whatever games they wanted with them.
So on the face of it, TWF ticks all the boxes and should be a runaway hit. However, there's one vital element the manufacturers may not have thought of - you don't actually need to have the toy to play the game. Cos we've all got thumbs, right?
Should we as parents be concerned about playground crazes? Since it looks like we can't get rid of them, perhaps we just have to learn to live with them. Children love fitting in and being part of the gang, and playing with the same type of things as your friends hooks directly into that. If you try to ban them, you'll probably only succeed in making them more irresistible to your child. And anyway, eventually the school will do the banning for you. And then we'll be on to the next big craze - wonder what that'll be?
What was the big playground craze when you were a kid? Do you allow your child to participate in the latest craze, or not?