Rent-A-Toy Services Are Great, But They Don’t Teach Kids How To ‘Share’

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rent-a-toy-servicesThe idea of renting a few toys a month and returning them for new ones is great. I’m always shocked at how expensive toys are, and how often my child becomes bored with them almost immediately. I just don’t think one of the fundamental benefits of these rent-a-toy companies is that it teaches children to share – as some are claiming. Sending a toy back to anxiously await a new one isn’t “sharing.” It’s giving something for the express purpose of getting something back.

Companies like Sparkbox are appealing to the parental desire to teach children how to share. They believe the act of sending the toy back to wait for another to come in the mail teaches the fundamental idea of sharing. From the Sparkbox website:

The sharing aspect of SPARKBOX is a subtly critical piece of child development. Since toys are returned at the end of each month, children are taught the importance of sharing, and we believe that SPARKBOX can be a tool to improve the order of a child’s play and to reduce their in-home toy collection; improving focus and imagination!


Hmm, nope. Children are taught that if they let go of a toy, a newer, better one is on its way. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The service is great. It’s fantastic for NYC apartments, for one. It’s almost impossible for your small city apartment to not turn into a toy store when you have children. The service is also great because toys are so damn expensive now. My toddler like those Imaginext superhero sets. Those things can run you as much as 40 or 50 dollars each. And then there’s inevitably the favorites and the ones that get totally ignored. A toy-sharing service is worth it for addressing this major flaw in toy-buying, alone. It just gets a little annoying when a company starts insisting its going to somehow shape your child into a better human by teaching him to share. Sorry Sparkbox… try again.

Pley is another service that is simply upfront with what it offers – toys. A bunch of different ones. And they have a link to a free trial. Cool.

I’m totally into trying something new that may end up saving me money and making our house less of a toy catastrophe. I just don’t need to be baited into thinking it’s performing a developmental service for my child that it’s not.

(photo: Pley)