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Ad For Toddler's 'Work From Home' Playset Sparks Heated Debate About Impact Of Capitalism

The toy from popular company Melissa & Doug isn't sitting well with TikTokers.

Father and son testing out Melissa & Doug's "Work From Home" toy
@melissaanddoug/TikTok

Working from home became common out of necessity during the pandemic, but since many people prefer this work setup, the arrangement is still going strong.

So much so that working from home has started to be referenced in other areas of our lives, becoming a more common plotline in current TV shows, books, and even toys, like the ones produced by the popular Montessori-style toy company, Melissa & Doug.

Melissa & Doug recently shared a toy ad for a work-from-home dupe on TikTok, featuring a dad working from home on his laptop alongside his son with the new "Wooden Work & Play Desktop" toy.

True to the Melissa & Doug brand, the entire toy is made from wood, paint, and stickers. The toy is a wooden board with a cutout handle for kids on-the-go, and mounted on top of the board are a laptop, computer mouse with gliding trail, coffee mug, a spinning pencil, and Rolodex.

You can watch the video here:

@melissaanddoug

Work from home looks a little different nowadays 👀 #toddlersoftiktok #pretendplay #homelearning

The video began with a father and son sitting side-by-side, both with their "laptops open," and an overlaid text that reads:

"How My Dad Works From Home vs. How I Do, featuring the Melissa & Doug 'Wooden Work & Play Desktop.'"

The father then "signs in for the day" by opening his laptop, and his son mimics him, smiling while he opens his wooden laptop.

While the father makes a to-do list for the day using pen and paper, the son spins his spinning pencil, which points at either "ABC" or "123."

At this point, it's time for a coffee break, so the father takes a drink from his coffee while his son can spin a disc on the top of his coffee cup, featuring warm coffee on one side and iced coffee on the other.

While drafting an email, the father toils away while his son explores the sensory board where his keyboard would be, as well as the Rolodex filled with smiling faces, likely to emulate his contact list.

The video quickly garnered attention with more than 16 thousand likes and 3.5 million views, but it likely wasn't the attention Melissa & Doug was looking for.

On the contrary, the opinions on the video were incredibly mixed.

The toy is likely meant to be a cute parody of what a child sees their parents doing during the day, especially since many kids now have more undivided contact with their parents while working at home. It also could work as a tool for a child to imitate the behaviors of the people around them, similar to lawnmowers or kitchen toys, which assist in a child's social development.

But many felt that the messaging of the toy did more harm than good by sending a message that work culture and capitalism are "fun," which is largely something that Millennials and Gen-Z folks have been pushing back against, especially since the pandemic.

In the comments, some TikTokers were immediately alarmed by the toy and its prioritization of work life and capitalism.

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

But others still saw it as developmentally appropriate as children go through phases of copying others.

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

@melissaanddoug/TikTok

While the toy is likely meant to be innocent and imitative in nature, this might be one of those classic examples of something sending a message that was not intended. By making this fun workstation, did Melissa & Doug create a bonding opportunity for children with their work-from-home parents, or did they perpetuate the stereotypes surrounding work culture?