Ever get the feeling that toys are secretly alive? Something about the “look” in their eyes hints at a greater intelligence, colorful personality, and the thought totally creeps you out. Right?
Meet WikiBear, the stuffed animal that can talk. Literally. It talks. The bear uses Bluetooth to connect to a smart device (that has the super special WikiBear app installed) and uses a built-in microphone and whole bunch of other fabulous technology that might actually be witchcraft. Anyway, you talk to this little guy, and he responds to you. He’s similar to Siri, searching the web for information at your request. But that’s not all! WikiBear tells jokes and stories too!
Some people are saying that this could be the next Teddy Ruxpin (the revolutionary story-telling bear of the 80s). Now, call me a conservative technophobe, but I wouldn’t want any child of mine to have one… It doesn’t seem to be 100% safe. What if a curious little Billy asked WikiBear where babies come from? Teddy Ruxpin wouldn’t have explained the process, now would he?
The concept itself is cool, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a great source of knowledge for anyone who wants to learn. But a line has to be drawn somewhere. This toy is LITERALLY the internet in physical, huggable form. It really gives me the hebegebees.
Like really, how is this encouraging anything positive?
DAD: “Oh here you go, Billy. This is WikiBear. He’ll talk to you so I don’t have to.”
BILLY: “Wow! Thanks, Dad! I’m going up to my room to play! Be back when I’m 30 and have no real social skills because my only friend is a stuffed robot bear with creepy eyes.”
This little fella goes right up there with Big Hugs Elmo. It’s sickening. Is the toy industry TRYING to ruin children? Why do toys have to control playtime? A kid’s entire life is controlled for Pete’s sake! Let them have some freedom to use their brains and create the fun. And here’s a crazy idea, kids could even play with OTHER kids, or even PARENTS. Crazy, I know, but it just might work.
Luckily, there’s still time before WikiBear hits the shelves in September so perhaps the company (Commonwealth Toys) will install some kind of safe search filter and get as many bugs out as possible. Either way, parental supervision is needed just to be safe. For now, I’m very skeptical. Playtime doesn’t need to be high tech to be FUN.