“Your baby is too big! We should operate right now!”
This is a game? For children?!
Yes, unfortunately. “Huge Kid Caesarean Birth in Hospital” is its actual name - and among other “activities” it invites kids to “use the scalpel - it’s not gory” and “use the clamps to hold the skin back.”
All this in service of assisting a painfully thin princess to birth a massive 6.3 k baby - and ending with a virtual suturing of her abdominal wound.
But the most disturbing part? Weird games like “Huge Kid” aren’t all that rare in the world of children’s apps.
According to Craig Chapple, a mobile insights strategist, the kid’s app industry is infested with strange borderline inappropriate content which, to children, is apparently highly compelling.
Take SlapKings, for example, a free game on both the App Store and Google Play. The object is simple. In the words of the developer:
Slap or be slapped: that’s the name of the game! This amusing and relaxing game will test your strength and timing skills so your smack generates the most power!
Arguably even more alarming than a kids’ game where you win by hitting people, and only by hitting people, is the extensive genre of baby-care games aimed squarely at little girls.
Many of these come up in a search using the keyword “Elsa,” capitalising on the seemingly unquenchable attraction of the Frozen franchise.
The plots typically revolve around a pregnant or postpartum princess who bears a suspicious resemblance to the Disney icon. Among the most questionable - from so many points of view - is a PC game called “Old Elsa Care Her Baby” (and that’s not a typo).
“Elsa is so busy that she looks like an old woman,” reads the description. “Her face is wrinkled, her hair becomes silver white. But she has to take care of her baby. Girls, let us help Elsa take care of the baby, then help her clean her facial skin and help her dress up making her more beautiful than before.”
Some of these games openly (and bizarrely) target a dual audience of little girls and adult mothers-to-be. Take “Ice Princess Pregnant Mom,” described as featuring “lots of fun activities for our kids who love to play princess games and for the pregnant moms who are looking out for some entertainment during their maternity time.”
And if that’s not baffling enough, consider the mangled English - not to mention the logic - of this come-on: “Welcome to my new baby and pregnant mommy daycare home where an ice princess and baby is waiting for an expert babysitter.”
What parents can do
If you’re disturbed by the idea of your child playing a game that involves performing a caesarean, slapping people indiscriminately or dealing with a cartoon princess’s probable postpartum depression, thankfully there’s a lot you can do about it.
Monitoring their gameplay is clearly an essential in today’s digital world - where the majority of kids are playing on tablets before they can speak in full sentences.
“Optimally, there’s no substitute for sitting on your couch with your kid and looking at what they’ve downloaded,” advises author and kids’ tech expert Anya Kamenetz.
That doesn’t mean continuous POS (“parent over shoulder”) interaction whenever your child is online. Even five minutes a day can be effective, once screen-time controls and basic family groundrules have been set.
The use of strong, flexible parental controls that work across all children’s devices is a must. Those that, like Family Zone, can be set to alert mum and dad whenever a new app is downloaded are a great solution for younger kids.
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