Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hello Barbie as Just Another Controversial Children's Toy, or as a Threat to Children's Privacy and Communication Rights?

In follow up to last week's class, I wanted to point you all to that Web-enabled Barbie we were talking about, as a great example of a recent controversy in children's media/culture. This article by Ethan Zuckerman for The Atlantic in particular delves into why the doll is attracting so much criticism, and the larger trends it is part of. I would argue that unlike the recurring controversies reviewed last week, however, the discourses around Hello Barbie diverge from the usual good vs. bad effects debates, as the issues involved here are somewhat new (to the information age, at least), and have implications far beyond the usual focus (on children's optimal development and socialization, etc.). For instance, the privacy implications are staggering, as are related questions about access, surveillance and commercialization of children's inner worlds.

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