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'Work From Home' Toddler Play Set Lets Kids 'Draft Emails' & Take 'Coffee Breaks' But Parents Are Concerned

Photo: TikTok
Work from home toddler play set

A TikTok video advertising a “work and play desktop” is making people wonder what toys are being given to young children and what message those toys are sending.

The ad for the toy brand Melissa & Doug features a wooden workstation. Its online presence is making certain parents question the reason for the toy’s existence.

The 'work from home' toddler play set is emblematic of how American society is hyper-focused on working.

In the TikTok ad, a father and his young son are shown sitting side-by-side at the kitchen table, each one working on their own laptop.

The video is titled “How My Dad Works From Home Versus How I Do,” and is narrated from the toddler’s perspective. 

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The ad shows the father and son going through various work-related activities, like signing in for the day, making a to-do list, taking a coffee break, and drafting an email.

It could be argued that the video highlights the importance of play for young children. Yet in the ad, the father isn't actually interacting with his child — he's just doing his own work.

The ad for the toy laptop shows that American culture is obsessed with working.

Play is an incredibly important aspect of children’s lives at any age, starting in infancy and extending to free time during one’s teenage years, even into adulthood. There are various yet equally crucial types of play, including symbolic play, functional play, and games with rules.

Toys should teach some sort of motor skill, be it fine motor skills that focus on a child’s ability for dexterity and coordination, or gross motor skills, like running, walking, and jumping, all of which use larger muscle groups. 

However, the Melissa & Doug toy workstation doesn’t seem to focus on either kind of motor skill development and seems more like a distraction tool so parents can get work done.

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According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, play and learning are intertwined activities. It's through play that children learn certain skill sets, and how to exist in the larger world.

The NAEYC states that parents are the “biggest supporters” of a child's learning. As such, it’s important for parents to make time for children to play throughout the day. Play is a surefire way to promote all sorts of development, such as cognitive, social, and emotional, as well as language development.

Yet the wooden toy workstation doesn’t seem to promote much besides the importance of work.

In parenting, it’s essential to model the ways in which we want our children to exist. If children learn through play, then having a child play “work from home” shows them that’s what’s valuable in the world.

It’s not that work isn’t important. It’s more that it’s not the only important thing in the world.

One could argue that the father in the ad isn’t even interacting with his own child. Instead, he’s utilizing a toy laptop so that he can focus on his own work.

Parents having time and space to do what they need to do is important, but not at the expense of their children’s day-to-day experience.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.