Right now, we are in the peak of the holiday toy-buying season. One of the hottest items this year is a new Barbie Doll. Instead of a dream house or hot-pink convertible, the Barbie comes with a warning from the FBI.
The doll is called Video Girl Barbie, a standard doll with a built-in digital video camera. The worry is that the toy could be used by predators to capture inappropriate images of children.
Newschannel 6 hit the streets of Texoma, armed with the video-recording doll to see what local Law Enforcement and parents think. Using the Barbie's on-board camera, we talked with Wichita Falls Police Officer Harold McClure. In addition to being an Officer, McClure is also father. From both points of view, he sees the potential reason to worry. "It does raise some valid points about the use of it and what people could possibly do with it," he said.
Its not just Law Enforcement that has a raised eyebrow. Several parents we spoke with share the concern. "Its not right. Its just like any camera, it invades privacy, but this is for a kid, a kid (isn't going to) think anything of it," said Ladonna Sours. "It takes the privacy away from the kids because anyone could go buy this and it could allow them to exploit the kids," she said.
"Its definitely interesting, but its not appropriate," added Alex Ranjel. "It could fall into the wrong hands, no telling what kind of stuff they could do with it," he said.
The FBI says there have been no reported cases of anyone using the doll to make inappropriate or illegal videos. The agency says they just sent a memo about the issue out to alert them of the possibility. "Law enforcement is encouraged to be aware of unconventional avenues for possible production and possession of child pornography, such as the Barbie Video Girl," the document said.
Officer McClure offers some simple advice to parents to help keep kids safe. "Make sure what you're buying for your child for Christmas, you know what it is, you know how it works, you know the ins and the outs of it. Just because it may be the latest or greatest doesn't necessarily mean it is the best for your child," he said.
The toy retails for around $50 and comes with a USB cable to download video to a computer. Many stores we called were sold out, but are expecting more dolls in coming days.