If you mean the cheap record players available today (e.g. Crosley) then they're really not much more than toys. If a person just wants to “have fun” playing records - watching them go around, laughing at the sound when they're played at the wrong speed, enjoy the novelty of the playing recorded music the old-fashioned way and, maybe, “feel cool”, then they're fine. Have fun and then throw it (and the records) out when you tire of it and move on.
No one who is serious about listening to music and values their records is going to use something like that though - yes, they damage records and the sound quality is terrible.
When records were first popular most people listened to them on record players. It was rare for anyone to have a stereo hifi system with separate deck, amplifier and speakers (few records were available in stereo anyway). Most people had a record player or a radiogram (a big wooden cabinet containing a radio, speaker, record deck and amplifier with everything hidden under a lid). Decent quality record players or radiograms had the same record decks that were later available separately (in the UK usually BSR or Garrard). As music and records became more popular, available sound quality improved and stereo became common, these things went out of fashion and stopped being made. Everyone wanted a
“system” with a separate deck, stereo amplifier, radio tuner (with some stations broadcasting in stereo), a pair of speakers and, later, a cassette deck.
So far as I know, there are no good quality record players being manufactured today.