While sitting in Mom’s easy chair during a recent vacation, I was enjoying my remote control cruise through the Tampa area offerings when a glitzy commercial for a new Barbie doll jumped out and slapped me rudely upside the head. For the first time in a long while I was rendered — speechless.
Although it is difficult to believe, “Credit Card Barbie“ comes complete with a bar-code-reader, check out stand and a toy credit card processing center wherein curious new Barbie doll owners are actually trained how to use a credit card. I suppose the youngsters wait in make-believe lines while play-friends electronically scan in their (optional) make-believe purchases and swiping their make-believe platinum Barbie cards. If I’m not mistaken, a receipt is printed out at the end of the shopping extravaganza, after which the children waltz off to dream about their new acquisitions, clueless about the importance of cash flow and the accrual of debt — just like Mommy and Daddy.
“The Shopping Boutique Playset comes with three outfits, including shoes and sunglasses, and the rotating pole can hold up to 20 clothing and accessory pieces. Also included is a display stand that doubles as the cashier counter where you “buy” your clothes. Swipe the Fashion Fever credit card to “pay” and find out the remaining balance on your account. But don’t fret. Once the balance hits zero, it will reset so you can continue to shop. Barbie dolls not included.”
Training young children to equate the acquisition of material goods by using toy credit cards does not strike me as being a particularly good thing. Learning how to handle real money in real life is difficult enough for adults without the toy industry injecting their single-minded marketing ethics — like some kind of evil, brain-washing drug — directly into the minds of children. I’d like to think that the introduction of sound financial principles taught to our children should be a function of good parenting rather than corporate marketing.
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* (Credit Card Barbie, as promised from the RDJ archives, circa 2007)