We, the taxpayer, pay Dr Christoph Barteck to play with Lego

Why are we paying (let’s be generous) our best and brightest academics to do hit jobs on corporates that are some of the most benign in the world?

All the tough problems must have been solved already then?

A favourite childhood toy may now be a source of concern for parents, after a study revealed Lego was becoming “significantly” more violent every year.

Dr Christoph Barteck from the University of Canterbury has been looking into the changes in the much-loved, building block-based product — and the findings could cause a worry or two for parents.

Lego was chosen as a case study simply because of its popularity and longevity, with early research revealing that the proportion of sets featuring some sort of weapon — such as toy knives, swords or guns — has risen considerably.

“Today, approximately 30 percent of all the sets currently in the market do contain some form of weapon,” Dr Barteck explained.

Like these?

However, he explained that there were “methodological issues” with that initial finding, as it didn’t identify exactly how the Lego pieces were being played with.

“Just because a blaster is included in the set, doesn’t actually mean that this blaster is being used a blaster [during] play. It could very well be used for something different.”

In response to the weaknesses of the first study, the research team looked at Lego product catalogues, because they include images that “show the actual sets and models in a play scenario”.

“What we could find indeed is that the number of pages [in the catalogues] that do contain some form of violence has increased significantly — and that’s actually been a very stable increase,” Dr Barteck said.

“Approximately, the likelihood that you actually observe a page with a bit of violence on it has increased by 19 percent every year.”

He said while Lego did have a policy on “conflict play”, there remains a disconnect between the company’s intentions and how the product is actually perceived.

“They have become the biggest toy company in the world, so they’re definitely doing something right — but we can also definitely see how our society has changed about what is, for us, an acceptable level of violence in toys,” Dr Barteck said.

Dr Barteck says he’s pleased with the “considerable discussion” that has emerged as a result of his team’s findings.

“It’s important that we discuss these things and make it a topic,” he said.

Picking on Lego? Really?

If they want to pick on Lego then pick on it for its OSH issues. Any parent knows that Lego is the most dangerous anti-personnel device known to man.

There is no pain like standing on a four block. If you want a burglar proof house then spread Lego around the floor under windows.

But seriously do we need to fund these wombles and their research. I bet there is plenty of saving to be had by axing research projects like this.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.