Is Hello Barbie creepy or cute? As the new doll tries to steal little girls’ hearts, parents and privacy advocates are trying to block it from stores. Why the brouhaha over a Barbie doll? Because it can actually listen to your child and respond, reported the Washington Post.
Crafted by Mattel, Hello Barbie contains voice-recognition software. This computerized intelligence means that the doll can “learn” by listening in on conversations in the home.
For children who grow up with all types of computer gadgets, it might seem like hooking up Barbie to WiFi is as normal as milk and cookies before bedtime. But to parenting and privacy groups, the doll is a pirate that wants to steal and report your personal information.
“If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child’s intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analyzed,” commented Angela Campbell, faculty adviser at Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology.
Does the doll have the potential to unnerve small children as well? The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood contends that it could pose a threat to kids, according to MSN.
“Kids using ‘Hello Barbie’ aren’t only talking to a doll, they are talking directly to a toy conglomerate whose only interest in them is financial,” declared the executive director of the group, Susan Linn.
“It’s creepy — and creates a host of dangers for children and families.”
The organization’s website asks that those who share their concern join them in campaigning against the doll. They cite experts, including a pediatrician.
“Computer algorithms can’t replace — and should not displace — the nuanced responsiveness of caring people interacting with one another,” declared pediatrician and CCFC Board member Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MD, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
“Children’s well-being and healthy development demand relationships and conversations with real people and real friends. Children do not need commercially manufactured messages — artificially created after listening in on anyone within range of Mattel’s microphones.”
But the new wired-for-sound Barbie doll also comes at a time when parents increasingly are being urged to give their kids a break from technology and persuade them to move in an attempt to reverse childhood obesity. And it’s reality TV star Honey Boo Boo who has become the poster child for that problem, as the Inquisitr reported.
Expressing concern about the fact that the little girl ranks in the obesity category, physicians on The Doctors staged a weight intervention. They expressed dismay when they gave her a bicycle and discovered that the 9-year-old had no idea how to ride a bike.
What do you think? Does Hello Barbie threaten privacy and good parenting practices? Post your comments below.
[Photo By Ian Waldie/Getty Images]