Stop Cosmetic Surgery Apps Aimed At Kids #surgeryisnotagame
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Hello, I'm Andrea Mara a mother of three who recently discovered cosmetic surgery games and I'm supporting this petition with Endangered Bodies Ireland. This is one of eight linked petitions by Endangered Bodies directed at Apple, Google and Amazon.
Like many parents today, what little I know about online games I’ve learned from my kids, and most of what mine have played so far have ranged from clever to educational to downright silly. But one game stopped me in my tracks when my nine-year-old showed it to me recently - it was a plastic surgery simulator game that had come up on her Kindle when she searched for ‘free games for kids.
To show me how it works, she carried out cosmetic surgery on her (animated) patient’s nose. This involved marking where the incision should go, using a scalpel to cut into the skin, moving a bone inside the nose, then gluing and stitching up the wound. And once that game was over, some of the other suggestions included ‘Pregnant Mommy’s Surgery – Caesarean Simulator Game’ – I kid you not.
I was really surprised that the cosmetic surgery game existed at all – I mean, who wants to play a game that simulates cutting into skin and delving into someone’s nose – but I was particularly surprised to see it marketed to kids. Not only is it graphic and gross, it’s also sending a really negative message to little girls. Don’t like how you look? Just go under the knife – because you are nothing beyond your appearance.
Right now, my kids aren’t particularly body conscious, and although I can’t keep them wrapped up in cotton wool, I’d definitely like to keep them away from plastic surgery games and the messages they send. That app developers are allowed to promote plastic surgery games to children is tasteless and offensive and to quote my nine-year-old, icky.
I’m signing the petition to ask Apple, Google and Amazon to regulate how these games are marketed – will you sign too?
From Endangered Bodies Ireland:
The images above come from some of the many cosmetic surgery apps available on the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store and the Amazon App Store. These cosmetic surgery apps, which often feature animated characters, are being marketed to kids as young as nine, a target group that is already influenced by our body-toxic culture.
Our societies are saturated with images of perfect and unattainable bodies, with over 21 million cosmetic procedures being performed throughout the world in 2015 according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The dissatisfaction many adults face with their bodies has trickled down to our children. Statistics from The National Eating Disorder Association in the U.S. show 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. In the UK, the 2016 Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey found more than a third of girls aged seven to ten felt women were valued more for their appearance than their abilities. Globally, children deserve to be challenged and inspired by their toys, not to spend their free time worrying about how they look.
On January 14, 2014, Endangered Bodies supported the UK-based Twitter account Everyday Sexism in its call to remove plastic surgery apps aimed at children featured on iTunes and the Google Play store. Within 24 hours, both platforms removed the flagged apps. Although neither platform released an official statement, their choice to remove these “games” indicates that they recognize the potential harm they can cause.
Deceptively designed as children’s games, the apps encourage users to slice virtual patients apart using scalpels, syringes, and other tools used in surgical settings. By making cosmetic surgery apps available for download, Apple, Google and Amazon are allowing companies to stoke and profit from the insecurities of children.
We at Endangered Bodies challenge the toxic culture that promotes negative body image. Cosmetic surgery apps, which promote body dissatisfaction and shame, are not games that should be marketed to vulnerable young people. Although in some cases (where games have age-based ratings) it is possible for parents to limit access to these games through parental controls, we believe that further action is needed. Apple, Google and Amazon need to scrutinise the apps that already feature an age rating to ensure the content isn’t in fact directed at younger children, using the age limit as a way to still offer their app for download. In other words, we don’t want these platforms to use the age rating system as justification to continue to offer these apps, which are clearly designed for children.
Please sign this petition to ask Apple, Google and Amazon to implement a policy which is clear to every developer, that they will not accept any such apps that are targeted at children and make a commitment to protect the mental health of their young users.
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