What was intended to look like a cute parenting TikTok instead stirred up a debate on the impact of capitalism on even the youngest in our society.

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Toy company @melissaanddoug recently shared a video recently called “How My Dad Works From Home HS How I Do,” featuring a dad sitting at a table with his laptop, alongside a toddler “working” on his own pretend work station. It shows them opening up their respective “computers,” the toddler playing around with the fake coffee cup, and otherwise showing off the feature of the pretend work station.

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The TikTok is ultimately just an ad for the Melissa & Doug Wooden Work & Play Desktop, although it’s fashioned to look like organic content you might find on any parenting page.

In the United States, it generally feels like our entire lives are intended to focus on work. It’s the way people are socialized and conditioned from a young age, and it’s been that way for some time now — seemingly only getting worse.

To some, hawking a “work station” for a toddler felt like an extension of this propaganda, with one of the top comments on the TikTok reading, “This is dystopian as hell.”

“This is the literal worst thing. Just beat them into corporate dronehood from infancy,” @unlikelycloud complained.

“2 immediate thoughts. 1: what in the late stage capitalism?!” wrote @onetoughcookie_sma. “2: So cute! My kid would love this.”

Others suggested it’s more about the child wanting to emulate their parents than an underhanded plot to bring children up as slaves to capitalism.

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“When you wfh, kids often want to emulate you & it’s a great way to keep them occupied for a bit,” countered @chaotic_author_mom. “This isn’t indoctrination omg.”

“This is the same thing as buying them a mini vacuum so they can join you in vacuuming, it’s not dystopian it’s just letting them copy you,” @phantoml25 added.

Kids have long grown up with play sets that allow them to pretend at being chefs, veterinarians, teachers, and a wide variety of other occupations — so at the very least, this concept is nothing new. Whether there’s something more insidious to it is, clearly, still up for debate.

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*First Published: March 27, 2023, 8:45 am