Sketchville: TMI choices with youth media
Okay– as previously reported, I’ve been to Buildabearville. The sign-in was relatively straight forward and safety-friendly, and all online interactions proved to be great…
HOWEVER, I found this wee gem today about an IN-the-STORE Build-a-bear buyer’s safety spot:
You see, each Build-A-Bear critter is issued a “birth certificate,” which is generated after the kids — and hopefully their parents, though that didn’t seem to be making a bit of difference on the common sense front — visit a bank of computers. These are big orangey-purple affairs, sort of Dr. Seussian in presentation. The keyboard buttons include stars and other colored shapes to make data input all the easier and more intuitive for youngsters. In fact, the computer-plus-keyboard experience is very close (no doubt intentionally so) to something children and their parents might have experienced in a kids’ museum, library, or school. Before their new friend can get its birth certificate, the kids are prompted to enter a host of very personal personal information: birth date, home address, gender, phone, and email among them. Along the way is the option to “skip” some of this input, but unlike what we’re used to in the world of online retail forms, there’s no effort to communicate what data is “required” for the transaction to proceed, and what’s “optional.” The overall effect is to sideline the privacy-savviness that might otherwise accompany the parent and/or child. I sat there and watched parent after parent prompt their kids to flex their memory muscles and practice their computer skills: “Ok Timmy, now, what’s our address? What’s your birthday? Do you remember our phone number? Good typing!!”
Ya know… people forget about the kind of information they share about their kids.
There’s a particular site for Anne Of Green Gables, called Anne’s Diary, that was brought to my attention two weeks ago. The site keeps your kids’ private information OFF the computer– which begs the question… where are you keeping the information? How are you keeping it (locked)? Why are you keeping it offline? And further more… why are you asking for my child’s thumb print? Because, yes, aside from all the information provided, they ask for fingerprints. Wha-what? No, no– it gets better. The site invites girls to write in an online journal. So let’s think about that again: 1. takes private info, 2. takes thumb prints, 3. encourages girls to write in their secret online diary, 4. keeps private info offline because online isn’t safe, but keeps private thoughts online.
Something doesn’t add up.
When I first heard about this– i thought maybe the site was working with the Canadian government to promote Kid ID’s and safety. But, sadly, they weren’t (or at least I was informed that they were not).
There is really no need whatsoever to collect so much information from a child. Period. I get the whole “marketing” thing, but still… zoinks.
I honestly would like to believe that the folks behind Anne’s Diary aren’t shadesters, and actually have misguided strategies for encouraging membership and keeping parents feeling safe. It seems like they have the best intentions for trying to make things “seem” safe and for creating such an exclusive “diary” environment. Overall, my gut kinda twists and a large cartoony question mark appears in my cloud bubble brain.
Fingers crossed for ‘em. Same with Build-A-Bear’s in-store marketing-initiative.
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