Den skal tidlig krøkes, den som god krok skal bli.
The beginning words of this blog is a well known Norwegian saying describing how it is important to start early if one wishes to develop good skill. This is in many ways very true. Yours truly has many things wished having been started earlier, starting a blog as an example of such. However, no progress can be had if one only spends time brooding over time lost. This should be a fairly open blog in regards to topic, however topics on technology, media, ethics and life ponderings from an analytic perspective is to be expected.
To get back to the opening words of this post I’d like to get into something I noticed during my (almost) daily trip to the supermarket. I like supermarkets and often take time to browse the aisles. Today I stopped by the toys aisle and checked out what they had. To my amusement, the toys section is getting a technological upgrade of sorts. Among the traditional dolls and crayons, smart phone replicas can now also be found. Cute little copies quite similar to the devices we already know well, with flip screens that changes to applications most of us adults use every day.
Even little princesses need a smart phone!
Apart from the initial cuteness factor, I find these little toys to be quite interesting. Kids learn quickly from their surroundings and specially from the toys they use. Traditionally, people have given girls play kitchens and boys toolsets. One of the two toy phones I found in the supermarket is clearly marketed towards little girls with a clear princess theme. The other toy is fairly neutral and a better replica of the real device.
Complete equality has the past years become a near virtue of Scandinavian society. This poses the question if the princess smart phone is a good or a bad thing? One can ask if is a good thing that the idea of technology needs to be wrapped up in a cute way for it to be appealing to females? On the other hand, perhaps the embracing of both technology and female preference can be a good thing? It is a controversial statement, but there are many differences between genders that one can not escape, not matter how equal society(I suggest reading up on the Scandinavian gender equality paradox, which I might get into at some other point). If girls are more likely to simply prefer pink, why not make a pink phone? This can indirectly teach young girls that you can in fact be feminine and embracive of new technology at the same time. The technology market is often overflood by items that by design are directed towards male customers. The few times a product is designed specially for the female customer, it often hides weak technology behind a pretty surface, which immediately turns away tech females.
But I digress, as gender questions can be discussed endlessly and there is another ethical question to these toys which I wish to discuss. What role and responsibility do tech toys such as these have? From the early 90’s, tech toys have entered the market more and more. Personally, I see this as an important step towards intergrating technology into our lives. Adults are baffled by how kids these days handle computers, phones and other tech gadgets with such ease. In many ways we can probably give tech toys some due credit. Someone in my family works in a kindergarten and tells me how they can observe very young kids mimic their parents, pretending to type text messages on toy mobile phones. One could call these tech toys an introduction to the concept of everyday technology before the kids are old enough to embark onto the real thing. The recent years, the time before kids start using technology themselves has been drastically reduced. This is a natural development as technology becomes cheaper and easily available. New questions rise with this development and I might cover some of the following topics later. Is there such a thing as an age limit for technology? How much should kids be shielded/monitored and is it ethical to allow kids access to technology where they can easily get in touch with adult content(not restricted to pornographic content) and adults?