I recently heard on the radio that parents are now using “Elf on the shelf” to make their kids behave better. Elf on the shelf is a fun little game families have begun playing where they place a little elf doll in different places of the house every night- giving kids the illusion that elf is real. Parents are beginning to take this sweet holiday tradition and use it to make their children believe that Elf is always watching.
Parents have always used little tactics to help control their kids, like Santa Clause knowing if you are naughty or nice, we simply need a little white lie every now and then to help us out.
Is this now being taken too far? How do we know when we have crossed the line?
Mattel has just introduced it’s latest Barbie doll and not only is it highly fashionable, but she can actually talk. Yes, that is right, your child can now play with a Barbie doll who can hold full conversations with them as well as remember your child’s key interests. When the new Barbie hears your child speak, she sends the data to a computer that records the message, and then relays the correct response back to Barbie.
In theory this may seem like another Big Data success; woohoo! a toy that can finally act as a play buddy for my child! Not so fast, everything your child says to Barbie gets recorded and stored by Mattel. This means that not only do the people working at Mattel have direct access to speak to your child at any time, in the safety of your home, but they also will use everything your child says for research.
Personally, I think this is one of the creepiest ways to use Big Data. The new talking Barbie is more invasive than any of the tracking companies do on the internet. So if you are thinking about getting your little one a talking Barbie this Christmas, think twice, or you may be putting your child in a potentially manipulative situation.