By Sharon Duke EstroffAmong the cardinal (albeit unfortunate) rules of the schoolyard social jungle is that the more cool, expensive stuff you have, the higher you climb on the food chain. And what kid doesn’t wish to become king or queen of the jungle? Children’s virtual worlds like Barbie Girls understand this fundamental truth about their target audience, so they lay the groundwork for a social … [Read more...] about Undercover Mom in BarbieGirls, Part 4: Peer pressure to pay up
By Sharon Duke EstroffThe vast majority of children’s virtual worlds (and certainly the materialistic pinkpalooza at BarbieGirls.com) are commercial – not public-interest ¬endeavors. So while these Web sites may have excellent intentions in creating safe, kid-friendly online playspaces, they are, at the end of the day, in it for the money, of course. Some virtual worlds (like Nickelodeon’s … [Read more...] about Undercover Mom in BarbieGirls.com, Part 3: To pay or not to pay?
By Sharon Duke EstroffThis week’s post continues detailing my investigation of Barbie Girls, and the crown jewels and skeletons in the closet that I uncovered there.Crown jewel: Number-blocking filtersPart of the appeal of children's virtual worlds like BarbieGirls.com exists in their conversational filters, one of the most notable functions of which is weeding out mention of any specific numbers … [Read more...] about Undercover Mom in BarbieGirls.com, Part 2: Talking numbers
By Sharon Duke EstroffAs with every children’s virtual world I’ve visited undercover, I found BarbieGirls.com to have both its crown jewels and its skeletons in the closet. Crown jewel: Socially acceptable doll play for tweensWhen I was growing up, girls played with Barbies well past their 12th birthdays. Today, in contrast, publicly admitting to owning a Barbie Dream House at the age of 12 would … [Read more...] about Undercover Mom in BarbieGirls.com, Part 1: Romance in the air