Kit Steinkellner
March 15, 2015 10:14 am

How would you feel, as a child, if you found out that people were using your toys to spy on you? Devastated? Betrayed? Suddenly in need of therapy for the rest of your life?

If you’re eeked out by the idea of using toys to eavesdrop on kids, you’re not alone. There was a TON of outrage following Mattel’s unveiling of their “Hello Barbie” at the 2015 American International Toy Fair. Why? As Mashable reports, the doll is embedded with a microphone that records a child’s playtime sessions at the touch of a button. Those recordings are uploaded to a cloud, and voice recognition software turns those recording into usable data. Mattel is selling this technological advance as a way for the doll to “virtually understand” the child’s thoughts, interests, and feelings, so Barbie can bring them to her owner on future playdates. Consumers are worried that Mattel will use this information to try to manipulate children because, well, that’s what big corporations tend to do with consumer data.

If you think that’s creepy, just wait, it just keeps getting creepier. Parents have the option of getting a weekly e-mail with audio files of all the child’s “playdates” with Barbie from that week. As a child, I would have been pretty pissed to learn that a corporation was spying on my playtime sessions, but I would have been SCARRED FOR LIFE if I found out my own PARENTS were spying on me.

I get that this Barbie is supposed to “revolutionize playtime” or whatever, but it seems like the cons SUPER outweigh the pros. When it comes to Barbie, maybe it’s best to just let her be plastic.

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