​Forget Boycotting Eavesdropping 'Hello Barbie,' Our Twisted Plan Is So Much Better

There's about to be a new Barbie in town, and she's more interactive than any of her predecessors. Hello Barbie was introduced at a recent New York toy fair by Mattel, and she's equipped with voice-recognition software that will work over WiFi, and allow Barbie to learn things like your favorite color and the dog's name, and respond to kids based on what they say. Sounds cool, but many are calling her Eavesdropping Barbie, since workers at Mattel will be listening in.

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As my 11-year-old daughter said sarcastically when I told her about this, "Well that's not creepy at all." Hey, she comes by it naturally!

They say that "snippets of speech are recognized and processed" after being transmitted by an embedded microphone in the doll. "That information is used to help form Hello Barbie's responses," the toy company claims.

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Um, who is listening to our children? Totally creeptastic. Several organizations are calling on the toy company to ditch the doll, including the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which launched a petition Wednesday. They worry that Hello Barbie would leave children "vulnerable to stealth advertising," which could result in kids asking their parents to purchase other Barbie toys and accessories.

"Kids using 'Hello Barbie' aren't only talking to a doll, they are talking directly to a toy conglomerate whose only interest in them is financial," said Susan Linn, the group's director. "It's creepy -- and creates a host of dangers for children and families."

We have a better plan than boycotting. Mattel may actually be in way over its head here, and we're betting that some employees are about to get an earful. There's a lot that goes on in homes with young kids, so heaven only knows what they'll actually overhear!

Mattel claims that a button has to be pushed in order to record, but anyone who has ever owned a battery-operated toy before knows that buttons don't always work the way they're supposed to.

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Anyway, what could they possibly overhear going on in our lives? When I shared about this toy to a friend of mine with four kids under age 10, her immediate response was, "Will it record me sounding like a lunatic when I'm on my last nerve?"

You know, because we never ever yell at our kids when they're being short crazy people who happen to live with us.

What about in homes where there is a potty-trainer? I can only imagine the looks on Mattel employees when they hear someone singing, "Tinkle, tinkle, little peepee!" or "That's it, push it out! You can do it! Poopy in the potty party time!"

Or what about the slobbering mastication that would occur when the family puppy got a hold of Hello Barbie? Slurp, crunch, growl! Followed of course by, "Drop it, Rex!"

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Hehe -- I can totally see a big brother messing around with his little sister's Barbie, trying to teach it cuss words or something. Or maybe just "boobs." Can you imagine two or three adolescent boys gathered around a Barbie saying "boobs" to it over and over, and giggling like crazy?

Let's just hope that Hello Barbie never gets knocked under Mom and Dad's bed before they knock boots. No one wants to hear those sounds. They were, um, wrestling. 

There's got to be one surefire way to get rid of the whole Hello Barbie concept. Let's all threaten to buy one and tell our kids that her favorite song is "Let It Go," and they each have to sing it 10 times a day to her. Our ears as parents have grown numb to the tune, but we're willing to bet that Mattel employees will run screaming from the building by the end of day two.

Do you think Hello Barbie is creepy?

 

 Image via Holly/Flickr

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