Growing "Kidults" Trend Shows Increase Of Adults Buying And Playing With Children's Toys

The hot trend of nostalgia has paved the way for the rise of "kidults," adults who buy and play with children's toys as a way to manage stress and anxiety.

By Gina Florio2 min read
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The obsession with nostalgia has resulted in reboot after reboot of our childhood favorites, resulting in TV show sequels and movies that just didn't really need to be made. Everything from Star Wars to Ghostbusters has been redone in an attempt to quench the nostalgic thirst of adults everywhere. Recently, things have escalated into a "kidults" trend that is making a fairly significant dent in the toy industry.

Growing "Kidults" Trend Shows Increase of Adults Buying and Playing with Children's Toys

The TODAY Show reports on the "kidults" trend, which has resulted in millennial and even Gen X adults purchasing and playing with children's toys. The most popular categories are board games, fan or collectible items, and puzzles. During 2022, "kidults" represented 60% of growth in the toy industry despite only accounting for 25% of sales. It's estimated that $9 billion is spent annually on toys for adults.

Looking around the landscape of American culture, it's no surprise that the "kidults" trend would show up in the toy industry. With the likes of adult happy meals at McDonald's, the upcoming Greta Gerwig film Barbie, and the return of the baggy jean Y2K aesthetic, it only makes sense that so many adults would want to return to a child-like state of play.

Jennifer Lynch, The Toy Association content developer, tells the TODAY Show that the last couple years have resulted in many more adults playing with toys or games. A young mom shares her love for building Legos when she has some downtime, describing it as an anxiety-reducing activity that helps her feel accomplished for creating something unique. Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty spent its first 10 years on the market targeting adults who work in an office and sit at their desk most of the day.

Hundreds of comments on the TODAY Show's segment indicate that many people find this trend to be sad and maybe even a little disturbing.

"The only trend should be these people growing the heck up," someone responded.

"We push adulthood on kids by introducing them to sex at younger and younger ages in school. It doesn't help kids mature. It has the opposite impact of infantilizing people so they act as kids when adults," one person said.

"Adult men buying children's toys for themselves to play with is something that belongs in a Balenciaga marketing campaign and not in real life," someone else said.

Whatever the reason may be for the sudden surge in "kidults," it certainly raises a lot of concerns about why adults feel the need to revert back to a childlike state of mind.