BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Friday, 10 December, 2004, 11:04 GMT
Are kids' Christmas gifts too expensive?
Hand-held games console
Many children want expensive hi-tech gifts for Christmas but their parents are less keen to splash out, according to a survey.

A group of children aged 8-14 were asked to choose from a list of 15 electronic gifts with the same list given to a sample of parents who were asked whether they were willing to purchase the gift.

Most youngsters were keen on the more expensive items such as iPod, a PC, an Xbox and a PlayStation 2 but few parents were happy to buy such expensive presents for their children.

The survey, by market analysis firm TNS, also suggested more parents will be buying presents in the runup to Christmas online.

Have children's toys become too expensive? What are you buying for your children for Christmas? What do you want for Christmas? How will you be buying your gifts? Send us your comments and experiences.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

It seems to me that for a lot of us, so much stuff is too cheap, never mind too expensive. There are many parents who struggle financially, but for others, going by the cars many of us drive, the amount we eat out, the alcohol, the clothes, CDs, cameras, holidays, high-techery etc that we buy, it looks as though it's all pretty affordable. Maybe this is the problem - we just spend our money like water. Children are picking up on this, and want, want, want, just like their parents. Whose fault is this? It's our own.
Susan, Wokingham,UK

While I agree with all these comments that children are becoming too materialistic, I don't necessarily believe that they don't end up learning the value of money. It was always clear to me that things cost money, but I was often treated to expensive gifts as a child anyway, and I always appreciated it. I'm now 19 and a first year undergraduate. At an age where many of my peers are very materialistic, I am extremely minimalistic when it comes to spending my and other people's money.

I do remember when I was about 12, my parent! s bought a Nintendo 64 for my brother and I (back in the day when they were new and expensive), and it was the first time I ever felt a pang of guilt at Christmas for my parents spending too much money on me - my father had lost his job earlier that year and I knew they'd made sacrifices for us. The point that I'm making is that even at a relatively young age, people can know the value of money.
Ben, Thornbury, Bristol, UK

All that has changed is the level of technology available
C Metcalfe, East London/Essex
But weren't we the same in principle when we were kids? All that has changed is the level of technology available. I remember pestering my parents for three Christmases running and birthdays in-between for a dolls house " like the ones in the Bethnal Green museum". And what I got (and still have) was a hardboard one from Woolworth's which suited my parents pocket better. My husband asked for a new bike, he got a good second hand one. Children have always asked for the moon, and sensible parents have always had to say no, or buy a reasonable version. All that has changed is the technology and the price.
C Metcalfe, East London/Essex

Some people spend too much on their kids at Christmas. Around here there is a vast toy shop where the locals are packed in approaching Christmas, spending vast sums on kids probably neglected for most of the year. This is supposed to demonstrate their love, then it is off out to the pub or bingo and the kids can fend for themselves. I could afford more for my kids but I wanted them to retain the sense of value for money so they got modest presents. They were happy.
Michael, Plymouth, UK

The computer is in the toy cupboard somewhere
Doreen G, Gateshead, UK
We brought our son a high tec child's computer last Christmas. The computer is in the toy cupboard somewhere, although the box and packaging are out every day to become some imaginary item, from space rocket to police car.
Doreen G, Gateshead, UK

Of the items mentioned only the PC has a learning element to it and all encourage the child to be anti-social (stuck in their rooms all through the Christmas period and beyond). Games that require social interaction and don't promote isolation are far better for a child's development and, ultimately, more fun!
Jane Higgins, Reading, UK

An iPod?! An Xbox!? You must be joking. Any parent who buys these for their children needs their head testing. Make them save with their pocket money, make them pay with their weekend jobs, make them learn the value of money and the cycle of earn first - then buy.
Patricia, Henley, UK

A friend of mine will be telling his son he's getting an improved service from their local council as that's where the money for presents has had to go.
Martin, England

There has to be a limit to what a child can get
Christine, UK
If it can't be bought online I won't buy it for Christmas this year. I'm fed up with Christmas shopping and I'm rescuing my sanity by doing it the stress free way at home. As for expensive presents there has to be a limit to what a child can get. The ads tell them that good parents buy these things for children, but it's just like junk food. One or two occasional treats is OK, but children won't learn the value of things if they get everything they point at.
Christine, UK

I DO think that children, and the West in general, have become far too materialistic. My wish for Christmas is that Band Aid 20 puts things into perspective, and it becomes trendy to be "into" non-materialistic things, but then maybe that is wishing for too much. I hope that parents are able to use Band Aid 20 to convey how our lives were put into perspective 20 years ago, with the original Band Aid, and we realised there was more to life than high tech gizmos.
Izzy, Cupar, Fife

Surely that useful little word "no" controls the cost of children's gifts??
John R Smith, UK

It's not surprising that children would choose these gifts, but the pity is that few adults seem to get what Christmas is all about. The city centre shops and malls are jammed and everyone seems to be taking part in a materialistic frenzy instead of planning get-togethers with family and friends or acknowledging the spiritual message of this holiday (for those who are religious.) Christmas is now just an orgy of spending.
Valerie, Norfolk, UK

As I learned in business - the whole art is to make people pay you as much as possible. The simple answer, as a parent, is to learn to say 'No'. Just try it. We had four children and, funnily enough, they respect you far more. 'Yes' is the easy option.
Robin Saltonstall, Beverley, UK

Definitely no electronic gifts for Christmas
Ed Johnson, Geneva, Switzerland
Christmas is way too expensive. I'll be giving my 7 year old son a pair of football boots, ice-skating boots and a tennis racquet to encourage him to actively play with his friends. He'll also get some classic Spiderman annuals to help him have fun reading alone or with us, and the new Bionicle DVD to enjoy. Definitely no electronic gifts for Christmas, but of course he is always allowed to play games on my PC, and occasionally listen to my iPod. I think it's also important for children to play with others instead of closing themselves in their rooms with PCs, XBoxes, Gameboys and iPods.
Ed Johnson, Geneva, Switzerland

Yes in the States, Christmas has become too commercialised and part of it is the parents fault. They (most not all) raise their kids not to be grateful, but greedy. Boundaries need to be set early and kids need to be shown by example to be thankful for everything they are given.
Will Munny, Bloomington, IL, USA

It is a question of how we as adults live our lives. If we are always having an expensive lifestyle, our children will want to follow our suit. My concern is whether our children are using Christmas as a "blackmail" to get presents.
Christina Spybey, London, UK

It's hardly surprising that kids want everything handed to them. After all they are bombarded with advertising suggesting they are less of a person unless they have some item and their parents often just buy what they want to avoid having to say no to the little darlings. Then when the kids grow up they haven't learned that the world won't hand them everything on a silver plate but still expect to have what they want, when they want, regardless of what it takes. It doesn't hurt to give kids nice stuff at Christmas but they need to understand that they don't have a right to whatever they care to ask for, just because it's December.
John B, UK

Christmas clash over gift choices
03 Dec 04 |  Technology

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific