Barbie Video Doll : Innocent or Evil

It seems as a community we are not content with our children just playing with Barbie Dolls, but we want to expose them to an adult world as well.

How so? Mattel have recently introduced a new Barbie doll that incorporates a hidden video camera, a spy camera for want of another name. The media are calling it ‘a paedophiles paradise’.

Barbie Video Girl lets children as young as 6-years-old film themselves playing, with a tiny camera in the doll’s necklace.

The child can then view it on a colour LCD video screen on Barbie’s back, or edit it on computer, or download it on the Internet. Of course, the child would need to be mature beyond their years to discern what is appropriate to download and what’s not. Innocence and naivety are plentiful, but common sense is often lacking. The very thing  paedophiles rely on.

Australian Clinical psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack is horrified with the concept.

While acknowledging it was intended to be fun, she said the doll could be placed in bathrooms to catch unsuspecting victims.

I am calling for all Australians to boycott this product and to refuse to shop in any store that justifies selling this potentially pornographic tool. It would be easy for someone with evil intentions to hand the doll to a child and encourage them to play with it. As a mother with four girls, do I teach them to be careful around dolls? As a child and adolescent psychologist, must I now also deal with clients who have been traumatised by a misused Barbie?

McCormack said she already counsels patients dealing with the devastating effects of being videoed on webcams and mobile phones without their knowledge.

Australian Council on Children and the Media spokeswoman Professor Elizabeth Handsley said she also found the video barbie doll disturbing.

In principle, it’s a nice idea to give children the tools for making their own media but parents and other family members need to be really careful in supervising how a product like that is used

Prof Handsley said there were overtones of `sexting’ which needed to be addressed.

Younger and younger girls are taking naked photos of themselves with their phones or whatever gadgets they happen to have and sending them around to others, which is very scary. I’m not suggesting six year olds are going to suddenly start doing that because they’ve got a camera embedded in a Barbie Doll. (But) there is a danger of mischievous fun getting out of hand, particularly where girls are filming each other and they might capture each other in embarrassing poses that might not even be overtly sexual, but might amount to a form of bullying depending on how those things were shared.

Unfortunately in this day and age, I wonder if we are trying too hard to get out kids to grow up and embrace technology, when we should really be letting them grow up in their own time without the burden of being expected to ‘keep up’ with present trends in marketing.

It is food for thought I guess


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