Censorship in toys

Filed under: Babies, Toddlers Preschoolers, Activities: Babies, Media, Day Care & Education, Toys, Gadgets

About a month ago my husband was playing around with one of our son's toys and realized it was censored. The toy in question is a Leap Frog brand caterpillar called an Alphabet Pal with letters on each of its twenty-six legs. Among the things you can do with the caterpillar are set it to play different kinds of music (each leg plays a different song) and say the letters on the legs. You can also set it to pronounce the sound the letter makes when it is spoken. So, if you hit the leg with the letter "B" on it, you hear "Buh." As a joke my husband tried to sound out a dirty word. The caterpillar denied him! Instead, if you, say, try to sound out "fff" then "ugh" you get a "heh heh, that tickles!" before the caterpillar will pronounce the "kuh."

Now, I can assume my kiddo isn't going to be using this caterpillar to sound out dirty words. Most children who are the age the caterpillar is designed for--between one and two years of age--don't even know what those are. But it still brings up an interesting point: Isn't that censorship? I mean, whoever designed this toy, which is a lot of fun and a great educational tool (it also says the colors of each letter on each leg in another setting), had to think that someone like my husband would try some funny business and came up with a plan to avoid the caterpillar saying bad things.

I'm starting to wonder if this was a one-time thing or if all toys of this nature are set to ensure they don't spell or say dirty words. Also, who decides such things? And does that person get to decide what constitutes a dirty word and what doesn't? At home with television and the Internet, for example, parents can set their own standards for what their children are allowed to watch and read or look at. The maker of this toy did that for us. Thoughts??? Should companies be censoring toys for us or are they doing the job of the parents?

Pic of caterpillar by j / f / photo.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.