Global Preschoolers and Their Favorite Toys

A new Viacom study reveals the most popular toy categories among global kids 2 to 5.

For parents around the world today, play is a natural way for preschoolers to practice skills they’ll need in life. In fact, nearly 3 out of 4 parents believe their children learn best through play. For kids aged 2 to 5 today, toys both enable and enhance this playful learning.

Viacom’s latest study of global kids and families, Little Big Kids: Preschoolers Ready for Life, asked small children about their favorite toys and parents about their openness to different types of toys for their kids.

Outdoor toys are most popular, with 72% of global kids playing with them. On average, 76% of parents say they encourage outdoor play and 6 in 10 parents feel their preschoolers are happiest when playing outside. Kids spend an average of 2.6 hours per day playing outdoors.

Arts/Crafts and Building/Construction toys are the next most popular categories, with 6 in 10 preschoolers playing with each. These toys develop kids’ coordination and foster their creativity. While girls are more likely to play with arts/crafts (68% girls, 53% boys) and boys lean more toward building/construction (69% boys, 52% girls), it’s important to keep in mind that a majority of both genders play with toys in each category.

Puzzles and books are a wind-down activity shared with adults. Primarily used for quiet time, 56% of preschoolers do puzzles and 53% look at books.

Dolls are the most gender-skewed favorite toy. Among girls, dolls are the favorite toy. In fact 79% of girls own dolls(vs. 8% of boys). Outdoor toys are girls’ second favorite, as well as the favorite toy among boys. Building/construction toys are boys’ second favorite.

Parents generally have no problem with “opposite gender” toys. More than 8 in 10 parents are okay with their daughters playing with what they consider to be “boy” toys, and 3 out of 4 are not bothered by sons playing with “girl” toys. However, the degree of openness depends on the parent and the country. Moms are more open to this behavior than dads. The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Australia are most open; the Philippines, Brazil, Russia and US are least open.