Toys and Child Development
Play is a child's "work" and toys are the tools children use in play. Toys do more than entertain and keep children occupied. Properly chosen, they should aid a child's physical, mental, social and emotional development. Play is universally recognized as a vital part of learning and growing and, because toys are such an important ingredient of play, they are invaluable to a child's development into a mature, confident adult.
No less today than through the history of civilization, toys reflect the times and cultures and provide children with the tools that help them relate to the world in which they live. Today's toy manufacturers keep pace with the rapidly changing world and provide youngsters with correspondingly appropriate playthings for their enjoyment and to challenge their creativity and imagination.
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Toy Safety and Quality
ICTI is committed to promoting toy safety and one of its most notable achievements in the 1970's was the development of a comprehensive standard for toy safety and quality. Since that time, ICTI has worked with governments, standards bodies and industry to improve and harmonize toy safety requirements around the world.
ICTI's membership has been actively involved in the development of an international toy safety standard through the International Standardization Organization. While the ICTI and ISO standards are supported by the membership, they cannot actually supersede the safety standards, regulations and testing procedures of local or national governments or agencies which are applicable to any product to which these standards apply.
The following general provisions are assumed in connection with toy safety standards:
- Toys are designed and manufactured for particular categories of children. Their characteristics are related to the age and stage of development of children and their use presupposes certain aptitudes.
- Apart from the risks that are self-evident and inherent in the use of some toys, and assuring that they are used in the manner intended, they should not present any risk for the category of children for which they are intended.
- Accidents and incidents are frequently due to a toy being given to a child for whom it is not intended or being used for a purpose other than for which it was designed. Great care should therefore be taken when choosing a toy or game; account should be taken of the mental and physical development and temperament of the child who will be using it; and the requirements of the standard do not release parents and educators from their responsibility of watching over the child while he or she is playing.
- The requirements in the standard, which apply to new toys, take into account the fact that safety devices should withstand some wear and tear. As a result, the persons in charge of the child should ensure that the toy can be left in the child's hands.
ICTI also compiles a list of toy safety standards used around the world.
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ICTI members recognize that there should be a lawful, fair, safe and healthy work environment for those employed in the manufacture of toys. In 1995, ICTI adopted a Code of Business Practices and, in 1996, it expanded this Code and also adopted a Fire Prevention and Emergency Preparedness Guide to encourage such conditions in toy factories around the world.
In 2004, the ICTI Ethical Toy Program was established as a fully independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to building better lives for workers and a stronger industry through the ethical production of toys.
Environmental issues are also discussed regularly at the Council meetings. ICTI responds to issues that are raised by consumer and other groups concerning the sale of certain types of products, or trade practices such as television advertising directed to children.
ICTI members are active participants in their own government and consumer group discussions on current issues involving children and their welfare. Many of its members, for example, are working with local organizations for the blind to produce and distribute catalogues highlighting toys appropriate for blind and partially sighted children.
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Toy Industry Production
The total 1995 production of toys by ICTI member countries is estimated at US$ 45 billion at the retail level, adding substantially to the economies of these countries.
While Europe, Japan and the United States have highly developed research and development programs as well as manufacturing facilities, the lower labor costs in such countries as China have made the Far East of ever-increasing importance in production phases of the toy industry.
For a summary of ICTI membership statistics, contact the Secretariat. For more detailed information, please correspond directly with the trade association in the region of your interest.
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International Sales and Marketing
The trade associations of most member countries sponsor an annual trade show and welcome exhibitors from qualifying companies from around the world to display and market their products. There, the new playthings for the coming year are introduced to the buying community. In follow-up, sales and marketing programs are normally implemented by a company's direct sales personnel or through networks of sales representatives and import and export management firms.
Dates and locations of the various shows around the world are available from the ICTI Secretariat and on this website. Specific exhibit regulations and attendance qualifications are available from the trade associations in each member country or region.
Traditionally, toy sales peak at such seasons as Christmas and other religious and national holidays.
ICTI members regularly exchange information on their national activities with the aim of producing and marketing toys more evenly throughout the year, which helps with managing production more efficiently and economically. ICTI members share the details of their programs with educational, health and civic organizations to develop new ways in which the use of toys can be promoted for the benefit of children.
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Unfair Trade Practices
ICTI regularly addresses both tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in order to encourage the free movement of toy products throughout the world. Identifying and eliminating unfair impediments to trade, which can negatively impact consumer product preferences, quality expectations and price options, is a continuous program within the organization.
An example of such a practice is product counterfeiting, in which a toy may be copied to appear to be the original product, while in fact it is not. Individual member countries prohibit the display of any such merchandise in their trade shows and also prohibit this type of action in the marketplace, as well as implementing other strict anti-counterfeiting programs. These actions have been effective in substantially reducing this unfair trade practice.
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