What is the problem? – Chiara

The problem is how to address gender diversity in apps, specifically for kids. This discussion bring in a multitude of issues regarding what is helpful and what is harmful for kids and what is an appropriate way to address gender diversity within digital games and apps.

The most relevant problem for the developers is convincing the target audience (parents, families and child care institutions) to support their ideas of gender neutral gaming apps being beneficial for children. It is the parents, families and child care institutions that are buying the apps for children, meaning that by the time the child has received the app, it has already been selected for them by these groups and therefore takes away the choice of the child.

This is an issue because it means that unless the App developers gain the support from these groups, their intended influence on giving children the gender neutral games to play cannot succeed.

In order for the developers to be successful, they must gain the support of these groups. This can be made difficult by the opposing social and political groups who believe that gender neutral games and apps confuse children and make it difficult for them to understand their own gender and develop into healthy, happy children. There are certain politicians such as Tony Abbott who have vocalised their concern for gender diversity being encouraged in children, commenting “let boys be boys and let girls be girls.”

This can create strife with the the developers of gender neutral apps such as Toca Boca as adults are often heavily influenced by the opinions of politicians and wanting to do the best for their child can be made challenging by debate about “what is best for the child?”

Therefore the marketing of gender neutral apps for kids is a crucial part of the success of the products as it is through communications that the producers of the app are able to provide information regarding their beliefs and research regarding gender neutral games being beneficial for children.

The contesting belief that gender binaries are good for children creates lots of issues for not just developers but for the future generation as their development remains largely in the hands of adults. Therefore it is important for developers of gender neutral apps to include information regarding the benefits of encouraging gender diversity and it is important for the supporting voices of influential parties to be voiced in response to the negative.

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