Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This holiday: spare me the Webkinz

Today I had a chance to write a public service announcement on behalf of all parents on my CNET blog. I am finally truly into writing (parent.thesis) because it turns out that the topic of parenting and technology touches a number of very interesting issues. Privacy, safety--society evolving at the speed of light.

Today's post is called Memo to Santa: Ask parents before gifting tech toys.

I've successfully fought off the Webkinz onslaught so far but tears have been shed over it in the Tiemann household.

Are there any toys you are hoping will not show up as a surprise gift in you family's holiday selections?

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Blogger Rebecca said...

Well, I've just nixed an in-house suggestion of a Nintendo gaming system for our 6yo. My husband is feeling guilty that we didn't throw a birthday party for our son (who had the misfortune to be born at the absolute busiest time of the academic year to two academic parents) and was thinking a Nintendo would compensate.

I'm thinking our kid (effectively an only child now that his much older brother has left for college) spends more than enough time playing computer games, watching TV, or glued to his Gameboy or Leapster -- the last thing he needs to have is another expensive excuse to be alone and sedentary.

(A Wii, on the other hand ... hmm, if only we could find one!)

The hubbie's latest suggestion is one of those kewl-looking Give 1 Get 1 kid-friendly laptops. I see your hubbie has reviewed it favorably over on (parent.thesis). Has anyone looked into the guts of the overseas-development part of the project? It's all well and good to donate appropriate technology to kids in developing countries, but before we bite I'd like to make sure it's a legit and effective program.

Back to your original question -- in general, I categorically hope that NOISY toys do not find their way under our tree this year. And I give thanks every day that my kindergardener is still oblivious to Webkinz. With any luck, we'll miss this sucker-fad altogether.

9:32 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Hi Rebecca, I appreciate your question about the One Laptop Per Child program. My own concern with the program is that they are sending out machines before they are putting a safety infrastructure in place. They aren't doing enough in my opinion, or looking at it another way, they're doing it in the wrong order.

I am concerned about my own child having a laptop with a webcam, for example. What does it mean to put thousands of webcam-equipped computers out there when the parents of these kids have no computer experience? I would love a serious answer on this from OLPC and Nicholas Negroponte. For tech developers, "safety" often means anti-hacking "security" features, but they also need to think a whole lot more about online child safety.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Barb said...

My younger daughter (7) got THREE Webkinz for her birthday in October and my older daughter "earned" a Webkinz from her piano (!)teacher. I didn't even know what they were. We don't allow our children to go on-line without supervision, despite the fact that we have governors on the computers which won't even let the kids go to the Hanes website (oh no, underwear!) My older daughter (9) has e-mail but I don't want her checking her e-mail without me present since even the Spam can be pornographic. I don't mind the Webkinz so much although I do find it deeply ironic that my kids will take such good care of their VIRTUAL pets but I can't even get them to help out feeding our pets at home!

The real reason I'm writing though, is to ask if you've seen this? This is an amazing presentation which describes the current state of the technological world and the demands placed on our kids in a way I've never seen before. I thought it extremely powerful.


Best to you,
Barb Cooper

11:20 AM  

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