Can (and Should) Hello Barbie Keep a Secret?

IEEE Ethics 2016

6 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2016

See all articles by Meg Leta Jones

Meg Leta Jones

Georgetown University - Communication, Culture, and Technology

Kevin Meurer

Georgetown University

Date Written: Jan 1, 2016


The growing proliferation of connected devices in various environments offers an increasing number of opportunities for minors to create and share personal data. Our analysis looks specifically at the privacy of children interacting with Hello Barbie. Hello Barbie is a new smart toy from Mattel, controversial because of its ability to collect, store, and process the information of children. We assess Hello Barbie across three fronts. First, we de-black box the technology by testing its interactive capabilities – can Hello Barbie keep a secret? Will she respect privacy when asked or suggest otherwise? How is the information presented in the online dashboard for adult oversight? In order to situate Hello Barbie in the larger and ongoing conversation surrounding child privacy, we next discuss Hello Barbie in relation to three other toys designed for children’s interaction: Teddy Ruxpin, Elf on the Shelf, and Furby. Finally, we will ask whether Hello Barbie should be able to keep children’s information private and why. Based on our discussion, we answer the question as to whether, in the case of products specifically geared toward children, higher or different standards should be established for the collection, safeguard, and use of data.

Keywords: privacy, data protection, internet of things, children, smart toys

Suggested Citation

Jones, Meg and Meurer, Kevin, Can (and Should) Hello Barbie Keep a Secret? (Jan 1, 2016). IEEE Ethics 2016, Available at SSRN:

Meg Jones (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Communication, Culture, and Technology ( email )

3520 Prospect St NW
Suite 311
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Kevin Meurer

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics