Sunday, 28 June 2009

Mobile prejudice

In all of the Michael Jackson hoo-hah, you may have missed the news that half of British children aged 5-9 apparently own a mobile phone. This is now a prime market for new hardware and so we see the advent of the Firefly phone, aimed at young kids. I liked Tim Dowling's tongue-in-cheek piece in the Guardian on this subject. There are numerous questions raised about the role of mobile technologies in young children's lives in these developments, not least the social construction of early childhood as a space for ever-increasing monitoring and surveillance by adults. But what I find most disconcerting about the Firefly is the way it embodies heteronormative assumptions about children's lives. Thus, the phone's simple keypad has, as the manufacturers state on their website, 'dedicated keys for Mom and Dad'. Not sure what you do with one of these buttons if you only live with either your mother or father. Maybe if you have lesbian parents, one would have to agree to wear the pants in this case? Sigh...I am going to email this webpage to the company that makes the phone, but I doubt it will take any notice. So I for one will be advocating a boycott of this particular device until further notice...