In just a few days, many homes will find children sprinting for the Christmas tree to open presents.  There might be a few surprises and classics, but there will also be the year’s hot new toys, demanded by children who’ve seen the amazing commercials on TV.

One year, I noticed a theme running through the toy commercials.

First, there was a biking game. You can hook up to TV, then pedal and steer a plastic bike model. The screen looks just like a road.

It’s like the child is really biking…but there is no danger of tipping over, getting run over, skinning his knee, or otherwise experiencing real life.

Second there was a painting set, complete with easel. But get this. No paints!  It was all digital…just another screen.  Move the pen, and it draws on the screen. You can erase it in an instant. No mess, no cleanup. No kids eating the paint, no graffiti on the walls.

Third was a product called “My First Chemistry Set”. It’s Chemistry! Make Beautiful Ornaments. Perform TONS of activities and experiments. How, you ask? Well, with all the chemicals it comes with! Where’s the list? Get out your periodic table: Citric Acid, Gelatin, Baking Soda.

Yes, making Jello qualifies as chemistry. With those three “chemicals” you can apparently perform “Tons” of experiments. And if Junior drinks the chemicals…well, it was just lemon juice, and he probably won’t drink that again! Definitely no way he’ll blow the place up.

Anyone know what I’m getting at?   What do all have in common?   They all claim to be the real thing, but are missing the key ingredient.  There is bicycling without a road, a painting set without paint, and chemistry without chemicals.

Why? Because it’s clean, predictable, safe.

I noticed a real trend to try and make activities clean, predictable and safe by taking out the key ingredient, replacing it with something else.

Question: Are these toys the same as experiencing as the real thing?  Is it better, or worse?

Meeting with a Group?  Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide

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