The Science of Play: Mattel and Zomby Gaga

October 20, 2016

I just returned from Mattel Headquarters in Los Angeles where Born This Way Foundation convened their first in-person Research Advisory Board meeting.

Our research advisory board members are a diverse group of Ph.D.-level researchers from across the United States and Canada. Not only did we spend the day talking about the Born Brave Experiences Research Projects and ways to translate research findings online and offline, we also got the chance to tour Mattel’s research facilities and to discuss opportunities for “real-time” research, designed to build a kinder and braver world.

At the heart of our conversations was a commitment to conduct research on how science can inform practice. We know that through studying children’s play we can learn about how to promote and support social-emotional skills—skills like emotion regulation and emotion expression that are vital for healthy development. Play is how children make sense of the world around them and providing positive messages through toys is important for scaffolding healthy development.

Not only am I a researcher, I am also a mother to two teenage daughters.

As a parent, it was very important for me that our daughters had access to toys with positive messages. Some of their favorites were the “American Girl” and “Monster High” characters. Monster High is a fictitious high school where everyone is accepted. I was particularly excited to get a sneak-peak at Zomby Gaga, Monster’s High’s latest character, who was designed by Lady Gaga’s sister, Natali.

Zomby Gaga’s message is about celebrating differences and promoting acceptance through kindness. She’s a great addition to Monster High, which is a place where students accept, embrace, and celebrate differences.

Our differences make us unique and if every school and place was like Monster High, then we wouldn’t have bullying, cruel, and mean behavior. Mattel, Monster High, and Born This Way Foundation are leading this translational research effort—through play we can build a kinder and braver world.

You can join our efforts by signing the #KindMonsters pledge and promising to practice compassion everyday. (And, of course, you can pre-order your own Zomby Gaga.)

In kindness and bravery,
Dr. Sue