All posts filed under: News


When a Girl Plays With Barbie

Mattel’s latest commercial for Barbie draws on a powerful rhetoric of play (the one I’m always harping on about) and childhood imagination to address parental anxieties about gender stereotypes. In this ad, the ‘scripts’ Barbie invites girls to act out are carefully chosen to reflect a specific and limited kind of female subjectivity where empowerment essentially amounts to one’s future profession as professor, coach of a men’s sport team, veterinarian, and business woman. The ad conveys the message that the ‘right’ kinds of play, with the right toys (ie. Barbie), can lead to the right kind of future you (adult) want for your daughter. Things we might consider in this ad are the ways in which it (and we) take at face-value the correlation between play and normal child development; how the play rhetoric enables the ad to so convincingly foreclose alternative ways of playing; and how the play rhetoric fosters a particular definition of normal and adequate female childhood as well as notions of ‘success’ in the case of this ad.    


In the News: ‘Fresh Air’ Parenting

Timely and interesting  research coming from the University of Toronto linking parental perceptions of child supervision to physical activity in children. Only 36% of parents allow their children to explore their neighborhoods unsupervised, one of the many factors limiting young people’s mobility. The Meitiv’s are a recent example of the minority few who risk investigation by legal authorities by allowing their children some autonomy. One article online calls for ‘fresh air’ vs. the negatively coined ‘free range’ parenting. Can we find a middle ground? An even more pressing question is this: what does it say about the status of and spaces available for children in our society when our instinct is to call 911 when we see children out-and-about? I’ll say more about this later.


In the News: From Virtual to Reality

Fortune announced today that Backyard Sports, a video game series for children, has launched a new business model for the mobile games market. What makes the model ‘new’? The mobile game is now literally a platform for ‘real’ live sports-play, which is not only a new way of monetizing play, but also has the added benefit of circumventing parental fears of sedentary ‘screen’ play. Read the article here; share your thoughts below: Like Rock Band, new Backyard Sports mobile games let kids play with real equipment – Fortune.


In the News: Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPads

Here’s Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPads And Why You Shouldn’t Either Yesterday my Facebook newsfeed was flooded with links to this article, which tells me that something about it really resonated with people…even people without kids. Steve Jobs allegedly restricted his kids’s use of tech and apparently that means we should to. Seems like some kind of reverse psychology marketing ploy. I think there’s some merit to this article. For example, I would agree that we need to carefully evaluate our voracious appetite for technology. I’m of the opinion that both adults and young people need to consider the impact an over reliance on all sorts of technology has on our lives, our relationships, and our ability to support ourselves. For example, our current food system in North America is dependent on a number of technologies that, should they be disrupted or no longer viable because of a natural disaster or economic collapse, render us disturbingly vulnerable. Play outside with [your kids] and surround them with nature; they might hate you, …