Thursday, October 04, 2012

Parental "No" Files: iPod Edition

My oldest daughter is 8.

For her birthday this year she told us she wanted an iPod Touch - all her friends had them and she wanted one too. We told her she could choose between all of her closest relatives chipping in and buying her one, or her getting a more traditional and more voluminous haul of gifts.

She chose the iPod.

So what did she show us the other day?

The photo up above which also came along with this automated note from her also 8 year old sender,
"This is a cool app I found. You should download it too. Here is the Apple iTunes App Store Link:"
I emailed the developer to ask whether or not it was a licensed McDonald's app, but never did hear back.

In investigating the app, I found dozens of others - all geared towards elementary students. All involved the "fun" use of junk food.

Yes indeed, parents can police a child's apps (though the impact that might have on trust isn't necessarily trivial or easily discountable in the grand scheme of parenting), but what a sad statement that junk food is so normalized that there's literally a genre of apps, specifically targeting kids under 10, that serve only to further glorify dietary crap.

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  1. I find it difficult to advise how any parent can stop the torrent of commercial messages that get pushed at children. (Special place in hell for those marketers etc.)

    Only thing to do is to teach media literacy at the earliest age. Little Red Riding Hood's big bad wolf is the seller of addictive and dangerous but legal lifestyle "choices"?

    1. I like that: media literacy at an early age. While I'm not so sure about my vegan-friend who yelled out "Dead Animal Clown" every time he drove past McDonald's, I do believe in teaching my (young)children that advertising is designed to try and sell us something.

  2. I don't think there should be an impact on trust if, as parents, we review apps on devices that belong to 8 year olds. My son understands that there is a great mix of content out there, and not all of it is appropriate for him - rather than him being expected to know if it's OK or not, we make the call. He's never had an issue with it - if he wants an app, he asks us first if it's OK. If it's not, we're honest about why we're saying no. It's kind of silly to imply that by being involved parents we risk damaging a trusting relationship with our children. Would you say that an 8 year old should have free access to the internet? The key is to talk to your kids, involve them in the discussion so they don't feel they're being "policed" (although, sometimes, that's OK - and it's OK for them to know it!).

  3. Anonymous5:06 pm

    Lisa: I would remind you that an 8-year-old should NOT have free access to the Internet. As parents, I see nothing wrong with POLICING our children in that area of activity. How, as a parent, could you POSSIBLY review every app that your child might run across while on a device?