Whether the hype about increases in the popularity of anal sex is true or not, anal sex play (which includes both anal penetration as well as external stimulation of the anus or any part of the ass) is a safe and healthy way to explore sexual and erotic potential. Anal sex play focuses on both physical and psychological pleasure that other forms of sex play may not, and for many people (alone and with partners) exploring anal sex play opens up new avenues that impact other aspects of their sex lives. Of course for many others anal sex play holds no, or only a passing interest.
One way to explore anal sex play is through the use of anal sex toys. In theory any sex toy you use to stimulate the anus, rectum or prostate is an anal sex toy.
There are many kinds of anal sex toys, which each focus on a different aspect of anal pleasure: Butt Plugs, Anal Beads, Vibrating Anal Toys and Prostate Massagers