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...
Sunday, 28 June 2009
Monday, 15 June 2009
Another day, another social networking site for tweenies. ITwixie (tag line 'join the revolution') is aimed at girls and is certainly less saccharine than some sites that have been developed. However, if you had any doubt about the demographic profile of its key users, then you just have to look at the videos here. These girls have gardens bigger than our local park. Never mind, at least users can upload user-generated content. At last these web site producers are getting the message that this is what many kids want. Even Disney has now launched 'U Rock 2', a site that users can upload videos in which they lip synch or dance to songs - a little like the site Bedroom TV, that I have blogged about previously, except U Rock 2 is specifically targeted at children. There is no doubt Disney know all about trends and children...so when will we see a Disney version of 'Twitter' that lets kids follow their favourite bands, pop singers and even U Rock 2 stars?
Monday, 8 June 2009
Well, all very well that the Terminator wants to move Californian schools from using textbooks to online texts, but it would appear that the motive is more about saving money than any desire to take schools into the digital age - where is the investment in laptops and mobile technologies for schools in your state, Governor Schwarzenegger?
Posted by Jackie Marsh at 15:06
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Oh dear. Yet another study which has tried to 'prove' that television has a detrimental effect on young children's development. At least this BBC report looks at the issue from a variety of angles. Is it just me, or are the findings of a study which indicates that there is less talk in the home when the television is on less than surprising? This does not mean that parents don't interact with their children at other times, nor does it mean that the children are unreceptive to the language they are hearing from the television. I tried to find a reference to the study on the webpage of the researcher, Dimitri Christakis, to see if the study did correlate amount of time the television was on with children's productive language competence, but it only lists his media appearances under the heading 'In the news'. Interesting...