A toy is an item that can be used for play. Toys are generally played with by children and pets. Playing with toys is an enjoyable means of training young children for life in society. Different materials are used to make toys enjoyable to all ages. Many items are designed to serve as toys, but goods produced for other purposes can also be used. For instance, a small child may pick up a household item and "fly" it through the air as to pretend that it is an airplane. Another consideration is interactive digital entertainment. Some toys are produced primarily as collector's items and are intended for display only.
The origin of toys is prehistoric; dolls representing infants, animals, and soldiers, as well as representations of tools used by adults are readily found at archaeological sites. The origin of the word "toy" is unknown, but it is believed that it was first used in the 14th century. Toys are mainly made for children.
Playing with toys is important when it comes to growing up and learning about the world around us. Younger children use toys to discover their identity, help their bodies grow strong, learn cause and effect, explore relationships, and practice skills they will need as adults. Adults use toys to form and strengthen social bonds, teach, remember and reinforce lessons from their youth, discover their identity, exercise their minds and bodies, explore relationships, practice skills, and decorate their living spaces.
Contest and give away prizes are effective practices marketers use to entice children and increase the sales. Cereal companies are renown for contest and give away prizes, directly targeted at children. Similar to fast food, cereal companies generate excitement around their brand through the use of toys and games. Competition based advertisement can increase sales traffic as consumers believe the more they buy the higher their chances of winning are. This is also effective when the prized toy is a mystery and children have to buy the product to find out what it is. An example of this is the Weetbix All Black campaign, where Weetbix released All Black collector cards. Weetbix was able to engage their targeted audience, young boys, to want to purchase Weetbix so they can get the nationally loved rugby teams trading cards. By collecting and trading the cards also enhances social benefits for young children. By using rewards schemes Weetbix has encouraged children to choose a healthier cereal for breakfast. This is counteractive towards competitive sugar based cereal brands thus benefiting both Weetbix and children.