Friday, May 20, 2005

FunBrain's lapse

Last night, DH made the rounds, shutting down all the computers before we headed off to bed. I was doing my own puttering and not paying any attention until he asked me, "Have you seen this?"

This was some content on an educational website my kids learned about at school, called FunBrain. There's a lot of advertising but there are also skill-developing games in math and reading that the kids enjoy. I gave it a once-over when they first told me about it, and since they use it at school, too, I didn't give it another thought. I figured the content would be OK.

(You can guess where this is going, can't you?)

DH was reading The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, day 234. It wasn't something I was familiar with, so I sat down to read it. It was a nasty surprise to read, It looks like Mom isn't going to let Dad off the hook on this underwear thing.

There's a plotline underway in which the Mom found a pair of leopard-print panties in their laundry. Obviously they're not hers, and she thinks her husband is having an affair and is making him sleep on the couch.

This is suitable content for an elementary school website? In a word: NO. What is wrong with these people?

Here's the email I sent off to them, although I'm pretty sure it's going to technical support and I'll have to figure out how to contact the people in charge of content. I hope the tech support people kick this upstairs, because I am pretty ticked about it.
I am writing about the April 27 and April 28 entries in "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid."(link)

I was disturbed to see the story line involves the mother finding a pair of women's underpants that are not hers mixed up in their laundry, and blaming the father for them being there.

I do not think that this is suitable content for grade-school children. Second graders should not be subjected to this kind of sexual situation, especially regarding marital infidelity.

If this is being played for laughs, I believe that there are many other subjects that could be mined for a lot more humor. Fathers who are sleeping on the living room couch for being caught out in an affair just are not funny.

I was very disturbed to see this content on your site. I have previously had no problems with letting my children use these resources, but now I feel I have to review everything in advance. You have a responsibility to your core audience to prevent content like this from appearing on your site, and I think you should drop this storyline from the Diary before it goes any further.

Is this censorship? You bet. I have no problem asking that inappropriate material be kept out of sight of my children. It's my job as a parent.

Please contact me as soon as possible with how you address this issue.


The complaint has been filed -- I wonder how long it will be until I hear back from them, and I wonder what kind of resolution they will propose.

2 comments:

--John Tkoch (Koch) said...

it wasin't that bad. and it wasin't sexual,it was "dramaish".

Joan said...

Here's the reply I received from FunBrain on 5/25/2005:
Dear Joan,

Thank you for writing to share your concerns regarding "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid." We appreciate your taking the time to write, and we're encouraged by your careful and responsible parenting. As parents, we share your concerns about the Internet medium.

Just as you parent by a set of limits and standards, we do the same when publishing. The referenced storyline in "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid" continues to meet our editorial criteria. Although thoughtful feedback such as yours does not solely drive our publishing program, it certainly informs and influences our efforts. For example, your email has caused us to have discussions around posting age disclaimers on the books. I think this is likely to happen.

Again, thank you for sharing your concerns.

Sincerely,

Jess

JESS M. BRALLIER
Vice-President and General Manager
FamilyEducationNetwork
jbrallier@fen.com