Monday, August 08, 2005

Mobile phone for kids?

This is the about-to-be-released TicTac Cellphone for kids. Not so long ago we began analyzing the cultural relevance of the mobile phone toys given to kids.

Toys provide a lens into what is valued in adult culture and provide a way to enculturate children into technologies and cultural practices. At the same time, the toys of an era provide an insight into the prevailing narratives of childhood and children.

The mobile phone is now so entrenched in the everyday that phones are being produced for kids from 6 years of age. However, this model (which looks very much like a tamagochi to me) has features which limit its use -- for example, no keypad, one-way txting (in, not out) and control of phone numbers. These limits say quite a lot about the ways in which the relationship between children, technology and adult control is being played out (at least in the minds of designer and marketers). It will be interesting to see if a 'dumbed-down' technology (for all it's tamagochi-like cuteness it lacks the functions that most kids will associate with phones) will be greeted with enthusiasm by kids who have been given mobile phone toys since birth and who see them in use all around. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

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