My 8 year old daughter recently googled something like “cool games for girls” and came across the website GirlsGoGames.com. We had a discussion this morning about the site and this is something we need to talk about more at length, because of all the issues it raises. I asked Sarah to blog about this, but wanted her to include a screenshot of the site in her post. She practiced doing this last Wednesday when we presented about our family learning blog at Oklahoma City Public Schools’ annual Tech Day conference, but this isn’t something she could do by herself yet. Instead of using Skitch to post to my Flickr account, I asked her to create her own Flickr account, but that required her to create a new Yahoo account that I had to authorize as her parent. (COPPA compliance in action.)
This was the screenshot she took after getting her Flickr account setup, and Skitch configured to upload / post to her Flickr account.
There are a lot of things to discuss here. First of all, from a media literacy standpoint, Sarah needs to understand this website is ALL about advertising and marketing. Before playing any game, visitors are subjected to a short 30 second video advertisement.
The site reinforces some stereotypical sex-role ideas that I do not entirely agree with. This isn’t a site I’d want her spending hours and hours on each day. She showed me the model/runway game (really it is more of an interactive simulation with feedback) and the room makeover area. I can see where this is fun, in a KidPix click the stamps and fill-in the “color me” blackline master sort of way. This site doesn’t promote and support activities which I would regard as truly creative, however, or constructive from a developmental standpoint. I’m not saying everything we do online has to be developmentally constructive, but if this site is a waste of time similar to how watching a TV show is a waste of time, then there should be some limits and boundaries on how often and how long she uses this website.
This summer the girls have been playing both Club Penguin and Webkinz a LOT. Rachel, especially, has been playing lots of Club Penguin but also uses Starfall and other sites. She just earned her “brown belt” on Club Penguin last week, a feat she was very proud of.
I want Sarah to blog about this GirlsGoGames website to encourage her to think critically about the site and what she is learning and consuming, consciously as well as unconsciously, as she “plays” on the site. I am not going to overreact and tell her not to go there at all, because the site does not look “dangerous” from a predator standpoint, but there are lots of important conversations we need to have here about cultural messages embedded in the site, its games, its advertisements, etc.
We are what we eat, both physically and intellectually.
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- T3 Grant Notes (ARRA Stimulus funds for Educational Technology competitively released by the Texas Education Agency) - 2009
- Podstock Southwest in El Paso - 6-7 August 2009 - 2009
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