This is a cautionary tale about the dangers of introducing children to technology.
Four weeks ago, it was time for the annual ritual of Hallowe’en costume selection. Most years, I have the energy to make one costume, which means that one kid get storebought and one kid gets homemade. Last year, Little Peanut got a robot costume; this year was Little Sweetie’s turn. But what would she be? She wanted to be some sort of princess, but the only princess she could think of with short hair was Cinderella, and she insisted that would require dying her short hair blond….which I vetoed.
Plan B was a Google Image search. To give Little Sweetie some options, I searched for girl costume halloween princess, which I quickly revised to girl costume halloween princess -sexy to eliminate options with PVC and stilettos.
We scrolled through page after page of results, looking for an image that would catch her fancy. Princess Leia: not pretty enough. Mermaid princess: been there, done that. Skeleton princess: too creepy. A dozen pages into our search, I had all but given up hope of Sweetie ever finding an acceptable option.
And then she saw it on page 13: a little child in a pink flowered kimono. “That’s it!” she shouted. “It’s beautiful!”
The costume in question was labeled “Child Asian Princess”, but it was barely distinguishable from the grown-up costumes labeled “Geisha”. 12 pages earlier, I would have ruled it out as an option for a little white kid on the grounds of cultural appropriation, not to mention questionable taste. But Google image search had worn me down: a plug-and-play option was irresistible. I picked up Little Sweetie’s “Asian Princess” costume at our local dressup store, and we were all set for the big day.
A week before Hallowe’en, her school had its own celebration, with kids invited to come in costume. Little Sweetie came home at the end of the day with her dress in shreds; she’d tripped on the hem and the whole thing unravelled. Much to their credit, our costume store took it back and gave us a new one, but the harm was done: Little Sweetie had started thinking about her costume alternatives.
On my side was the legal precedent that has helped untold generations of parents survive the Hallowe’en season: Thou Shalt Not Change Thy Costume After Thy Mother Has Made And/Or Bought It. But Little Sweetie hit up on the two words that pierced through that legal shield: App Girl.
Yes, our daughter’s idea for a must-have Hallowe’en costume was her very own invented superhero. App Girl, a hero with the power to recommend the perfect applications for your iPad or iPhone.
How could I resist a costume idea pitched at a tech-crazed mother’s heart? And so today we are proud to introduce App Girl, along with her theme song, The World as My iPhone.
First posted on October 31,2010