Silly Bandz are hardly news at this point, but it seems that they continue to engage kids and captivate bloggers! We spoke about Silly Bandz at the Youth and Family Mega Event in May, and at the risk of adding clutter to the conversation, here’s our POV…
For those of you who don’t know, a quick primer on the latest collecting craze…Silly Bandz hit our radar back in March when the little bracelets had just begun to translate into full-on fad in little towns and big cities across the U.S. These rubbery rings have been flying off shelves of the toy stores where they tend to be sold. The bracelets come in packs of 24 and come in thematic packs: princess, pets, dinosaurs and rock bandz, to name a few. And the trade-worthy trinkets have inspired so much excitement that many schools have prohibited them from the playground.
As Sean McGowan, a toy industry analyst has said, “In a high-tech era when children want iPods and iPads and Wii games, it’s refreshing to see something as simple as this get their attention. This is the lowest of technologies.” So why are today’s tuned-in and wired/wireless kids so intrigued?
First, collecting sits right at the sweet spot for kids and tweens. For kids, who I am is still expressed best by what I have – the brands I wear, the stuff I show off on the shelves in my room, and of course, the collections I’ve acquired. For kids, stuff is good. And having stuff that others want – that has value beyond the sum of its parts – is really good. Perhaps even better than having something for keeps is having the ability to use what you’ve got to get to the next level (i.e., a more coveted bracelet).
Second, Silly Bandz speak directly to the in-between stage that older kids and younger tweens are entering. Kids still love to play. While we tend to think of kids wanting buttons and flashing lights, they can still find fun in simpler things. But society increasingly makes toys taboo and babyish. Silly Bandz allow kids/tweens to show off their style sensibilities while keeping their secret. Grouped on their arms, these bracelets look like mere fashion accessories. Remove them and you can appreciate the play value inherent in dinosaur or truck shapes. Fashion meets action figures in an age-appropriate way.
Finally, Silly Bandz illustrate the scarcity principle – even moreso as bans take hold. The harder it is to find one of these bracelets, the more collectible it becomes. And with parents and teachers helping to fuel their “forbidden fruit” nature, they’re likely to maintain their sizzle through the summer.
And probably most of all, Silly Bandz show us that old ideas are often good ones when it comes to tweens. Silly Bandz don’t differ too much from the bands of the past: jelly bracelets (which, you may recall, became controversial because of the sexually explicit meaning that teens tied to different colored bracelets), friendship bracelets, and charm bracelets. It seems that each generation of kids makes this trend their own, but with their entire world turning towards technology, it’s still fascinating that these tech-free trinkets continue to make the grade.