The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Barbie Video Girl?

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For years Barbie has been the target of criticism for her unrealistic proportions, occasional lowbrow career choices(McDonalds cashier; bride; or my personal favourite - Christian Louboutin Cat Burglar), lack of cultural diversity and questionable choice in men.

However, the most recent backlashaimed at the famous blonde has come on the back of her most recent attempt to reinvent herself for the 21st century and embrace technology.  Manufacturers Mattel have fitted Barbie with a video camera hidden in her necklace and a small colour LCD screen in her back which has the capacity to record 30 minutes of video which can then be uploaded to the internet. 

Understandably psychologists and privacy experts are concerned about the potential negative impact of placing this sort of technology in the hands of children. As Lawyer Michael Pearce of Australian civil liberties firm Liberty Victoria has said, “It's possible that the Barbie camera might pick up some personal and private events that you would rather not be publicly disclosed.”  

And as people are fast realising, once something makes it onto the internet it really can be near impossible to ever remove completely. I know that I certainly would not appreciate footage of myself plastered across the internet eating dog biscuits, sporting my self-executed bowl cut or any number of other embarrassing milestones from the days when I was brushing Barbie’s golden tresses.

However, I think that boycotting toys of this nature is not the answer to these publicity and privacy issues. Children are growing up in an ever increasing technological age and simply willing marketers to refrain from targeting internet capable toys at this young market is unlikely to have any substantial impact. Instead we should be encouraging our children to approach such devices wisely, to understand both the positives and negatives associated with them and treat them accordingly.

With new parents creating an online presence for their children often from the day they are born (and sometimes even before they arrive), their exposure to the internet is no longer a question of if, but when. Barbie should not be the only one taking the fall for this – children require guidance dealing with the internet on all fronts, not only to avoid later regrets, but to protect them. Adults the world over should have the foresight to realise this now. 

- Briar Barry
Junior Girl
Girl Museum, Inc.

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