Should Kids Play With Toy Gun?

GUNA generation ago, it wouldn?t be unusual to see kids running around their neighborhood wielding toy guns as they played cowboys or cops and robbers. But as school shootings have become frighteningly commonplace and with gun control being such a controversial issue, playing with toy guns doesn?t seem that innocent anymore.

Many schools have even implemented zero tolerance policies on guns, and in some cases, have suspended children for pointing their fingers in the shape of a gun and pretending to shoot another student.

Some parents feel that playing with toy guns sends the wrong message, making light of a deadly weapon ? or worse, that toy guns increase aggression in children. Others see playing with toy weapons as a natural, age-old way for kids to explore important themes in life, including good vs. evil, to develop a sense of morality, and feel empowered by pretending to be a hero.

The Research

Most parents don?t encourage their kids to play with toy guns. According to study of 830 parents published in the journal Pediatrics, nearly 70 percent believe that it?s never OK for a child to play with toy guns, and 66 percent forbid them in their home. That may stem from the concern that playing with toy guns leads to aggressive or violent behavior. But unlike with violent video games, there?s little research that links toy guns to violence later on in life.

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