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Neutral Reward Children's Toy

Sure it's educational
(+13, -13)
  [vote for,

The sooner in life children learn that the universe is completely indifferent, the better. It will save them from the inevitable disappointment when they do learn - and learn they will.

Normal toys do not expound this principle at all. Whether it be visual, aural or tactile feedback, they only reward.

The Neutral Reward Toy, on the other hand, couples reward with punishment. It lights up, but also delivers a (mild) electric shock. It makes a funny noise, but releases a pungent odour. It pledges loyalty to the child, but runs off with their best friend when they least expect it.

You'll learn as much about your child as they will about the universe.

Detly, Jun 04 2005

Possessive vs. Attributive Nouns http://www.getitwri.../archive/082504.htm
Aha! [Detly, Jun 04 2005]

(?) The less favourable one _22Life_22_20prepar...n_20kit_2e_2e_2e_2e
Same basis, different approach [Susan, Jun 06 2005]


       but, you see, the parents also have to deal with these things.have you ever had a child get zapped and start cryin while your watching (theres less of the crying here because we got a 240 vault system) and what happens if your sitting drinking beer and eating chips while eating pie and the damn thing lets off an awful smell.
included with this toy should be a sound , smell and babyproof bubble.
andrew1, Jun 04 2005

       //the universe is completely indifferent//   

       Your premise is wrong. The universe is intrinsically a good and happy place. I firmly believe this. Sure there is grief and pain but they are ways to better yourself, learning experiences.   

       PS. indifferent means the universe doesn't care, the universe is not a cognitive being so it is indifferent by defenition. But you use indifferent like it is bad and to that I reacted.
zeno, Jun 04 2005

       Sure kids would learn from this, about as quick as learning that a cuddle with that shiny charm necklace feels cold and stings. I'm neutral on the idea, just because I agree with it in principle but feel it needs reworked unto a kid's version.
reensure, Jun 04 2005

       //the universe is not a cognitive being//   

       Careful, or you'll hurt its feelings.   

       It would be this sort of thing that would make small kids really upset and might hurt them emotionally (I'm just guessing at this), and might convince them that nothing is worth trying as it's a cruel hard place. I think that some amount of optimism is needed in life, so why not start young? Let the wee kids have their fun.
froglet, Jun 04 2005

       Where did I "use indifferent like it is bad"?   

       I considered the "Zero Reward Toy," but decided that a toy providing literally no stimulation couldn't possibly teach anything but patience.
Detly, Jun 05 2005

       Did no-one ever teach you, Detly, that patience is a virtue? Your toy should be produced!
sven3012, Jun 05 2005

       is there not enough disappointment when the toy breaks? When the kid flushes the toy down the toilet, it is gone,or retrieved at great expense and grief... lesson learned.
dentworth, Jun 05 2005

       Pfft. Patience. Can you believe it takes three months to get a gun license? Three months! Who the hell came up with that! I'm not going to be angry in three months! Wankers.
Detly, Jun 06 2005

       [Detly]. I think what you've done here is quite profound. You've embodied in a toy the perfect parent. One that teaches their children that with hard work comes reward, and with tomfoolery comes dead end dank reefer basements, and that in the end, everything simply does balance out.   

       This toy needn't be fancy, I think a simpler mechanism would be funnier. Frustrate the child, as one quarter he inputs allows him to play a video game, while another forces him to watch a video of a dear being picked clean by vultures.   

       Something of this sort would be entertaining and enlightening for the youth of today, who, as far as I know simply enjoy things that light up, or make noise. We need the yang for this yin.
Blumster, Jun 06 2005

       [Soph] My example was to point out that one must take the good with the bad.   

       If I read [detly] correctly, than he means some toy that will put some pleasurable sensation linked with a bad sensation, to show the constancy with which this world leaves us completely in the middle, or at a natural zero, or in some resting state, as the result of equal but opposing forces. Either way, it enlightens the child to the true nature of life: take the good with the bad.
Blumster, Jun 06 2005

       Toys already have important life lessons:   

* Batteries not included
* Choking hazard
* Accessories sold separately
* US/Canada model is shown in all illustrations
* May stain clothing
* Individual results may vary
* Artist's impression may differ from reality
* Suitable for ages 8-80

       Some profound wisdoms for life in them there disclaimers.
not_only_but_also, Jun 06 2005

       Hmm. I realise that the wording is a bit ambigous, and to be honest, I'm fence-sitting on this. I can't decide whether it should do a good and bad thing simultaneously (as [Blumster] says), or randomly (as per [Sophocrat]).   

       I'm leaning towards the latter, since indifferent does not mean balanced or fair.
Detly, Jun 06 2005

       I think that I have a great solution to your conundrum/fence sitting problem...   

       Sell "good" toys, and "bad toys" with each tending to be about as good as a bell curve would expect, except with the middle 20% cut out (so as not to show fairness.)   

       If priced appropriately, it will keep kids coming back for more when the next one comes out. Kids whose last toy was "bad" are itching for a "good" one like their friend has. Kids who already have "good" ones need to satiate their desire for a "better" one, or to build their collection.   

       Kids might even convince parents to buy the same toy over and over again, to get that ever-rumored "perfectly good" one.   

       In very fine print on the bottom of the instructions write "The real meaning to life is money, and because of these toys, we're making lots of it. Kids are suckers."   

       Well, that last paragraph is optional, but preferred.
Blumster, Jun 06 2005

       [Blum], that's perfect. We should go into business on this together. We'll show those smug bastards at Fisher-Price. "Soundly reject" my toy, will they?
Detly, Jun 06 2005

       Welcome to the latest edition of Silly Annos:   

       //we got a 240 vault system//
//the universe is intrinsically a good and happy place//
//you use indifferent like it is bad//

This is a good idea, the toy would encourage children to think (eg. learn the sequence of events to avoid electric shock, learn how to manipulate toy to produce a certain response etc). Children need love and support from their parents, not bubble-wrapping against inevitable and immutable truths.
DocBrown, Jun 06 2005

       //learn the sequence of events to avoid electric shock//   

       Or learn something while they try...
Detly, Jun 06 2005

       It is not the universe that is indifferent. It is (most of) the people in it. This toy (random model) will teach that there is nothing that the child can do to produce the desired action. thus indifference is instilled. The child will throw the toy away and not play with it anymore or give it to a 'friend' to let him/her suffer.
I am thinking that [Blumster] has no children, why else would he want a child to go for yet another possible disappointment if not but for him making money?

       If you want to teach children about life, you will let them live it. Helping them where they can, picking them up when they stumble. But always teach them they have a say in matters that concern them. They do have a choice. This toy will make them feel they dont' <sic> and raise a generation of helpless fools.   

       "duh, I'm sorry mom the nuclear warhead just wanted to go of by himself, nuffing I could do about it. It could 'of stayed there if I pushed the button.. If it wanted to..."
Susan, Jun 06 2005

       [Susan], the universe is not capable of expressing concern, interest or preference and therefore must by definition be indifferent.

I think you were correct in stating:
//If you want to teach children about life, you will let them live it//
but if you attempt to shield kids from the negative, constantly accentuate the positive and teach them that they can always control what will happen to them then you're not allowing them to live life - you are simply painting a canvas that will be wiped at some point if your child is not extremely fortunate.
DocBrown, Jun 06 2005

       can you name a toy that only always reinforces the positive?
po, Jun 06 2005

       Not the issue [po], although I would contest that most toys aim to provide exclusively positive experiences for the user.

[Susan] appears to be positing an objection to the toy based on the fact that it will demonstrate to children that there are some things they cannot influence. I think this is a marvellous lesson to learn early on and need not lead to the rearing of a bunch of moody apathetic types but could instead breed such admirable traits as tolerance, stoicism and patience.
DocBrown, Jun 06 2005

       DB, au contraire, it's the whole point.
po, Jun 06 2005

       //can you name a toy that only always reinforces the positive?//   

       A battery charger?
(Sorry, couldn't help it).
Ling, Jun 06 2005

       I must respectfully disagree [po]. It isn't necessary for an exclusively positive toy to exist for me to disagree with [Susan] about the merit of a toy that chooses to balance positive and negative experiences. I think crux of the thing is that most toys strive to provide solely positive experiences, even if they don't always achieve this goal, and that [Susan] objects to this toy because it explicitly deviates from that objective.
DocBrown, Jun 06 2005

       [DocBrown] Indifference means 'not caring'. This implies a capabillity of caring. The Universe has no feelings and can therefore neither not care or care. The Universe simply Is.   

       I did not say that I would paint a purely positive world or else I would try to prevent them from stumbling nor would I teach them they can always control events (having a 'say in things' does not imply control). But I do believe in consequences. You can choose between two bads but choose you will.   

       There is no such thing as a toy that always teaches the positive (or the negative for that matter). Toys teach children to manipulate, construct, etc etc. How they handle disappointment in life is based on how they look upon the consequences of their actions.
Susan, Jun 06 2005

       [DocBrown] I object to this toy on the basis that it does not teach: action means consequence.   

       P.s. : A rattle might be intended to instill a positive feeling but my daughter can still turn it in to a maiming tool. Heck she can even turn her thumb into one.
Susan, Jun 06 2005

       The point was to teach kids that the universe is indifferent. It is indifferent, and you will die.   

       The trick is not to think about this stuff so much, or you'll loose your marbles.   

       Teaching kids about it early on ensures that the bridge is crossed, that they don't fall into some pseudo traumatic melodramatic post childhood epiphany that the world is, in fact, indifferent, and the only thing left to do about it is live in decandence.   

       However, any flushed goldfish teaches kids about death well and good. And death is the cornerstone of the indifferent universe. So, your toy will only slightly reinforce the idea. At any rate, BUN.
daseva, Jun 06 2005

       [Susan]"Having a say in things" implies a degree of control. You may not have absolute control, but having a say means you have some input, at least as I'm familiar with the phrase.

My point was that there are situations where you have no control. These are often amongst the very hardest to deal with in any case so it's as well to get some practice. Whilst this toy may not teach action = consequence it may provide some valuable lessons all the same.
DocBrown, Jun 06 2005

       //You may not have absolute control, but having a say means you have some input,// exactly.
This toy would teach you you have NO control what so ever. So whatever you do, it makes no difference. In life you Can make a difference. Not always and not always to a degree you would like but a difference still. If you believe that nothing you do can make a difference whats to prevent you from suicide?
Susan, Jun 06 2005

       And input is not the same as control
Susan, Jun 06 2005

       But there are other, different toys, just as there are many varied situations in life, some that may be altered and some that may not, as we agree.

And no, input is not the same as control but purposeful input is the same as partial control.
DocBrown, Jun 06 2005

       good gracious, I go away and eat my tea and...   

       I am not sure that my question was aimed at you, DB or indeed Susan (checks author of the idea) but rather dear Detley who has somehow got forgotten.   

       "normal toys do not expound the principle of learning disappointment" to paraphrase the author. my point being that all toys can lead to disappointment and my challenge to all reading *Detley's idea* was to come up with a toy that never disappointed. I have been trying to remember just one single toy that didn't ever disappoint.   

       o/t I think it was Mars Bar that requested consumers to inform them if their product was not completely satisfying which led to one joker to write several letters on the subject of how although Mars Bars were pretty wonderful they did not *completely* satisfy him...
po, Jun 06 2005

       [DocBrown]I beg to differ. I have purposefully inputted my ideas but I seem to be unable to control your voting on this idea.
Susan, Jun 06 2005

       What [Susan] and [Po] said.
zeno, Jun 06 2005

       Suggest title change: "Neutral Reward Thing, intended for children".   

       A "toy" would be something that kids might actually play with.
sophocles, Jun 06 2005

       //Indifference means 'not caring'.//   

       Perhaps, but it doesn't imply any capability of caring. A rock is indifferent. A hydrogen atom is indifferent. They are not fair or unfair, caring or uncaring, malicous or benevolent. They just are.
Detly, Jun 07 2005

       [Susan] apologies - I should have chosen a better word than "purposeful". What I meant by "purposeful input" is input that has some effect on the final result. So I would continue to argue that "purposeful or meaningful or significant input" equates to partial control.
DocBrown, Jun 07 2005

       [Detly] when you 'don't care' it implies that a decision has been made. You could care, but you choose to be indifferent=not caring. It is the same difference as between Death and lifeless. Death implies life once existed but has now perished; Lifeless means it never lived.
Just as Death cannot exist without life, so can indifference not exist without its opposite: caring.

       For you or something to be indifferent it needs to take an opposing view or stand to caring, thus being able to have feelings or emotions towards something is necessary.   

       [DocBrown] I understand your argument and I can see how 'having a say' in things actually means having some control. I will refrase "..have a say in matters that concern them." To "can voice their opinions about matters that concern them and sometimes even control the outcome".   

       Which does nothing to negate my argument that this toy will instill indifference; at the least
Susan, Jun 07 2005

       This is getting semantic but I say to be indifferent is not to make any decision to not care. I see what you're getting at - in 'Nausea,' the main character claims that to make no decision is still making some decision.   

       What term would you use to describe the apparent apathy of a hydrogen atom? What word is your equivalent of 'lifelessness' in this context?
Detly, Jun 07 2005

       //If you believe that nothing you do can make a difference whats to prevent you from suicide?//   

       This is a common but fallacious line of reasoning. You could equally ask: what's to provoke you into suicide?   

       And at no point did I say that I "believe that nothing I do can make a difference."
Detly, Jun 07 2005

       I think [Susan] is semantically correct - the universe may not be capable of being indifferent due to it not being capable of expressing preference. However, [Detly] is also correct - a hydrogen atom (or the universe) does behave in an uncaring manner (ie. not motivated by preference towards anything or anyone) because this is the nature of it. It's not technically indifferent but it does a very good impression of indifference.

So far as the original argument we are still on opposite sides of the line with no progress evident. You say indifference would result, I argue tolerance. I suppose I will have to tolerate your indifference and you will have to be indifferent to my tolerance as regards this idea!
DocBrown, Jun 07 2005

       I think that the semantic argument can be overcome by re-wording the opening sentence thusly...

"Life can be cruel and the sooner that children learn it, the better."

Personally I think that the idea has been completed baked by one simple phrase in all too common usage. "Batteries Not Included."
DrBob, Jun 07 2005

       "May contain traces of evil."
Detly, Jun 07 2005

       [DocBrown] I think you put the finger right on where it hurts. We (people) superimpose our emotions on inanimate objects. A very eloquent solution you have put to us. It works for me.

       [Detly] I did not say that, what you said I said you said (about not believing etc.).   

       I appologize in advance for hanging on like a pittbull on this idea but this is close to my heart and I hope you will continue this debate.   

       When growing up there are (in my opinion) three things a child should learn: Selfvalue (-worth), selfreliance and a feeling of security.
Selfvalue will teach her (or him but I have a daughter so please read him/his also when seeing she/her(s)) she can make her own decisions and stand behind them.
Feeling secure that her decision is based on her own motives. She will know that she alone is responsible for her actions/emotions and that she is able to overcome life's troublesome events.

       This, I believe is taught by: action means consequence. And yes [Detly] not making a choice is also one, thus it has consequences. If I give her a toy that teaches her in advance that life is cruel I do not allow her to make her own decision about that. I will teach her "Life is cruel, get used to it". I would teach her a feeling about life that is mine (I personally believe that life in general is good, its people that make it shitty).   

       She on the other hand might think it is a jolly good laugh and "thank god he ran away, saves me the embaressement of having to say 'excuse me, but you bore the hell out of me so please leave without a phonenumber to get back to".   

       I think children should be allowed to form their own opinions about life without being prejudiced by the feelings of grownups. Basically that is what this toy teaches. "This is how I feel about life and you should to, if you do not want the same dissappointment that I experienced". But the things you were/are disappointed by, don't have to be the things they are dissapointed by.   

       And 'Inanimate' would be the word for 'apathy'.
Susan, Jun 08 2005

       Interesting idea, but I don't like it. Ignorance is bliss.   

       The average toddler laughs 30 times a day, the average 70 year-old laughs twice a day.
radicalllama, Jun 08 2005

       Man, the universe wants life, you dig? Don't sweep that quantum stuff under the carpet and think, "Good God, glad I don't have to think about THAT all day". Its all connected, man, constantly searching though everything for something, and it always finds something, and there's no guarantee on what your gonna get. That hydrogen atom digs all kinds of atoms, always looking for the next quick fix, just like a human bieng.
daseva, Jun 08 2005

       //ignorance is bliss// I wish I had a pound for every newbie I have slapped sideways for this misconception
po, Jun 08 2005

       Seriously, how many pounds would you have?
daseva, Jun 08 2005

       loads a money   

       well, possibly 12. I must ask bliss   

       I admire a man that responds *that* fast!
po, Jun 08 2005

       No, but I do crave a glass of red wine and "people are strange" dripping away in the background...
daseva, Jun 08 2005

       //Ignorance is bliss... I wish I had a pound for every newbie I have slapped sideways for this misconception//   

       How is that a misconception? Actually, maybe don't tell me.. ;)
radicalllama, Jun 08 2005

       over to ...bliss, she has the night shift.
po, Jun 08 2005

       Systematic 'baking... wow. I'm tipsy off that.
daseva, Jun 08 2005

po, Jun 08 2005

       (Bucket of water on standby. You two find your own idea for this...)
Detly, Jun 09 2005

       //I did not say that//   

       Fair enough.   

       //a toy that teaches her in advance that life is cruel//   

       But the toy isn't inherently cruel. It's inherently neutral, by design.   

       //I personally believe that life in general is good, its people that make it shitty//   

       But you don't live in isolation from the rest of humanity.   

       If my toy teaches some set of prejudices as you claim, then surely *any* toy that is purely rewarding (or, indeed, any toy at all) teaches a different set of prejudices and is therefore guilty of the same crime.
Detly, Jun 09 2005

       In the end, you have to have a prejudice. One will get an ego trip off of renouncing his ego. Futile opinions somehow keep us alive, keep us guessing.   

       I do want my kid to think about the universe, but I'd rather just show it to him.   

       Dead goldfish included. And I'll make them flush it themselves!
daseva, Jun 09 2005

       Wow this idea has a lot of anno's.   

       \\can you name a toy that only always reinforces the positive?\\ Hungry Hungry Hippos. Although I always wondered what the balls were meant to represent. I can only presume whale eggs.   

       I think you would need to be fairly cynical to like this idea. However that said, I like it.   

       \\The child will throw the toy away and not play with it anymore or give it to a 'friend' to let him/her suffer\\ Thus a valuable lesson has been learnt. Possessions are fleeting, and it is better that others suffer than you do.
hidden truths, Jun 09 2005

       //you would need to be fairly cynical//   

       There's no 'fairly' about it.
Detly, Jun 09 2005

       hungry hippos can do a vast amount of damage to slow childish fingers.
po, Jun 09 2005

       Childish fingers operating hungry hippos can do a vast amount of damage to slow adult fingers.   

       I like the concept of this sufficiently to bun it, for all it's flaws. However the currently score of +9 -9 is so appropriate that I think I'll leave it as it is.
wagster, Jun 09 2005

       <naughty schoolboy snigger>
DrBob, Jun 09 2005

       I have restored balance [DrNaughtyBob].
wagster, Jun 09 2005

       [Detly] //But the toy isn't inherently cruel. It's inherently neutral, by design.//
Euhm. I think that delivering a mild electric shock when the child is having fun, is cruel.

       //But you don't live in isolation from the rest of humanity. // Not totally, no. (Not sure wat you mean by this. "The fact that I did not have many toys as a child, and the one I had was broken by my big brother tought me to..?" )   

       //any* toy that is purely rewarding (or, indeed, any toy at all)..teaches a different set of prejudices..//
I don´t think there are toys that are purely rewarding unless you count a gumball dispenser. I is as Po asked: Can you give an example of such a toy?
Susan, Jun 10 2005

       //I personally believe that life in general is good, its people that make it shitty.//   

       Well, it seems to me that if your life involves other people, this statement logically reduces to "life is shitty." I doubt that's the point you're actually making, but it's what it says.   

       //I think that delivering a mild electric shock when the child is having fun, is cruel.//   

       But the child having fun with the toy is nice. On balance, it's neutral.
Detly, Jun 10 2005

       How delightfully Grimm, or possibly Roald Dahl-esque. In my experience kids are fascinated by things with a slightly dark side (not that I have a huge amount of experience, but hey). Ultimately, the true test of any toy is if the child is still playing with it after a week - if they don't enjoy it, they won't play with it. I like this, so I'm bunning it, but I'm not convinced I'd ever buy it for a child.
moomintroll, Jun 10 2005

       In the context of looking after a child, indifference is bad. [-]
pertinax, Jul 05 2006

       The universe is not "cruel". It is, as the author rightly says, utterly indifferent to you. There's a difference. "Cruel" is a subjective idea, defined entirely from the point of view / experience of the person or people in question.
neuro, Jul 05 2006

       And now for something entirely different:   

       All of this is processed through a filter of human perception. As such, the indifference of the universe is, for all practical purposes, relative to the perception of the human in question. If you believe the universe loves you, who can prove it doesn't? And more importantly, /why/ prove it doesn't?   

       Remember the story of the two kids, one alway happy the other always sad? One xmas, the parents give the sad one, who wants nothing, everything they can and the other, who wants a pony, gets a room full of shit. The sad one is still sad, the happy one is just beaming, digging around in the room in delight. When ask why, the happy child says "with this much poop in the room, there must be a pony in here somewhere."   

       After a life of battleing depression, watching my father deal with depression, and seeing other people apparently happy all the damn time for no freaking reason; what I want for my children is happiness. I don't really care what the universe is... I just want my children to believe that it loves them and for them to be happy in it.   

       As much as I breaks my scientific heart to say it: There are things people shouldn't know. Perhaps the purpose of life is to keep out of situations where you start asking "what is the purpose of life?".   

       And so, on the theory that children learn more from example then from words, I just try to be happy no matter what. When bad things happen, I just smile anyway (or I try to) and laugh and move on. Pretending the universe loves me. Maybe someday I will believe it.
James Newton, Sep 07 2006

       There are things about real life that happen with toys as well- not as much as real life, though. Legos would be a perfect example- you can make all kinds of things with them, but they don't build themselves- you've got to use your imagination.   

       Also, battery operated toys have a different aspect of real life- well, obviously, you have to put new batteries in it when they go dead, but also, if you leave old batteries in the toy for a long time, they have a tendancy to leak, which can damage the battery compartment or the circuit board beyond repair.   

       Also, if you leave it in the kitchen after you've had fish for dinner, there's a small chance that a big smelly fishbone could fall on it.   

       If the parents just give their kids a budget on how much money they can spend on toys, and let the kid decide what they want to buy, or if they want to save their money so they'll have more money to buy something bigger. And, if something looks totally cool on commercials, but when you get the real thing, it SUCKS, lesson learned- things aren't always as good as they sound.   

       Oops. you left your idea in the kitchen and I dropped a fishbone on it. next time put your toys away.
Dickcheney6, Aug 18 2008


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