My ten year old son is a sucker for product marketing, he's easily won over by commercials. His Christmas list is short this year. I need to make careful decisions about how to spend our money due to the tight budget.
I understand that one perspective that adults use regarding kids and presents is to give them what will make them happy, even if the gift is stupid or a total waste of money. I hate that basic principal, and when the budget is tight I especially don't want to do it.
The Fushigi ball is one thing my ten year old wants for Christmas. He saw commercials for this on Disney Channel, Cartoon Network and Nick. He believes the commercials.
The other challenge with this child of mine is he likes to gain mastery over things such as learning to do fast stacking of that stacking cups game that so many kids were playing with three or four years ago. (Someone gave him a set for his birthday, I'd never even seen them prior to that.) He likes to do things like practice jumps on his bike or practice his guitar.
There is a problem when the thing my son is trying to perfect a skill using a defective item or if it is much harder to master than the marketing department led consumers to believe. In the end if the product stinks this son of mine can take it personally and blame himself as inferior rather than seeing the reality that the product or excessive claims in commercials (or their lies) is the real problem.
Today I decided to check out the Fushigi ball online before forking over the $20 that one costs. I turned to the Internet. Actually I sat my son down in front of Google and told him to search for some reviews by pluggin in the keywords "fushigi" and "review". The first thing he found was a YouTube video explaining what the Fushigi is really like. I was in the room with him so we were both educated on the Fushigi ball thanks to Web 2.0. Come to find out there are many product reviews for this item on YouTube done by amateurs and even kids!
The ball appears on TV to be made of a pretty glass but from what we have learned it is clear acrylic with a metal ball or a metallic looking ball inside it with a cushion of fluid. One reviewer showed the thick acrylic seam that goes half way round the ball so it isn't even smooth or "nice". One reviewer tested it by dropping it on various surfaces (which will happen while practicing contact juggling) and showed how the ball gets scratched or marred with paint in the process.
The second issue is when watching the commerical the first few times it seems like the ball can do great tricks. Per YouTube reviewers I saw that they are not all real maneuvers but some are illusions. My son and I then viewed the original Fushigi ball commercial online and by very careful listening we heard the correct terminology was used that the user is creating illusions. It's funny how we didn't hear that the first time(s) around. I talked with him about use of words and deceptive language and marketing and advertising. (This type of thing winds up teaching kids about critcial thinking skills.)
The last review we saw explains the ball will take lots and lots of practice to master (years even). Thus this will probably be like some other toys like the Rubik's Cube which may sell product but few owners will actually master the technique to use it "fully" or properly. Young kids seldom have the attention span necessary to become a master at something that takes years to practice.
My son no longer wants the Fushigi Ball. Well that saves us $20. This was yet another lesson in seeing reality for what it really is. Little by little my kids learn about the real world which includes pursuasive marketing of toys to children and deceiving them.
Here are some of the videos that we watched. Since these are amateur videos by kids and adults the quality is not professional, that's okay, it was the information we were after.
Video name: Fushigi is Fake, which shows how any ball can be used for illusions and contact juggling
Long review by adult: Fushigi Review Can YOU Do It? (note: one use of the s word) in which he focuses on mastery of contact juggling will take lots of practice, maybe even multiple years.
Adult woman reviewer does testing by dropping the ball and seeing what damage occurs: What Happens if You Drop a Fushigi Ball?
Impressive looking use of the glow in the dark Fushigi Ball (I note my son's small hands could not do this trick if he tried).