Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Parenting through The Kim Kardashian: Hollywood App

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood App

While most of us would like to see the Kardashians enjoy their wealth someplace far away, the new Kim Kardashian Hollywood App, a product of Glu Media, is surprisingly nefarious for the teen/tween demo.  Just launched, this game App ingeniously gives participants an attractive, glamorous Avatar on which to model themselves for climbing their way from obscurity to superstardom.  In order to win at life, participants need Kardashian-like networking and self-promotion skills. It's a fame game!

By obediently doing what's commanded (flirt, dazzle the crowd, charm, etc), participants earn money and stars which can be used to pay for items that will bring them into stardom -- flights, clothing, contact with A-listers, etc.  Participants also need energy, which is dolled out in the form of lightning bolts.  (Could paying for energy represent anything more here??)

There are some progressive themes in the App:  the young Avatar takes the bus around LA and is free to date the opposite or same gender.  But, the larger issues of striving for stardom is concerning and comes at a price -- participants are encouraged to make in-App customizable purchases.  In order to advance to higher levels, real currency is used, or the players must wait until they have earned more currency.  Charlotte Alter from Time magazine equates the storyline to Dante's Inferno saying: "the circles of hell are the levels of fame."

At the risk of sounding prudishly parental, it appears this App allows participants to flirt, cheat, and climb without any real-life repercussions.  While it is goal-oriented and there isn't any violence in the game, when Kardashian is pleased with the participants' performance, she throws money and popularity points around for the participants to pick up from the ground -- positive reinforcement? In what occupation would young men and women have money thrown at them?? Hmm...

But, perhaps most unsettling is that the App promotes an hierarchical environment based on popularity, where A-list people do not speak to D-list people.  In our daughter's school, as in most schools presumably, a good deal of work goes into counseling students against prioritizing popularity, segregation, bullying, etc.  Sadly, it appears that this App counters some of this work.

But here are the positives: Assuming that most teenagers will take the content rather lightly, the App is strangely absorbing, perhaps especially for a teen/tween who has free time to kill in the summer --car rides, airports, at the beach, etc.  It can also be largely productive if used as a discussion gateway for parents and their teens/tweens. Discussions could begin with "What could Kim be doing with her life that makes a difference in the lives of others...?"

James Liu of Forbes magazine wrote a compelling article explaining the success of this App:


Parent should familiarize themselves with this App and should speak to their children about the seemingly counterproductive themes being presented.

Shut the electronics off! Get everyone outside and enjoy some old-fashioned summer time play!

Consider buying GLU Media stock, because this is just the start of it...

Here are some more articles about the popular App:

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