We were recently contacted by a mother who was concerned about some games her daughter found online. The games featured characters from Frozen as being pregnant - in this case 'Elsa' - and the object of the game is to assist the character in giving birth.
On further investigation, the girls website includes a number of games depicting licensed characters as pregnant. The object of different games varies, some guide the gamer through assisting birth, including caesarean section. Others, such as 'Pregnant Rapunzel Ambulance" feature the character pregnant, with a black eye, a gash to her chest and tears streaming down her face. The gamer is required to patch up her wounds. As the mother who contacted us said "she looks like a victim of domestic violence."
Aside from the inexplicable number of pregnant licensed characters, the site features games depicting cosmetic surgery.
"Dream Cosmetic Surgery" depicts a little girl feeling sad and concerned about being fat. Clicking through the storyline, the girl sees 'Elsa' from Frozen on television and wishes she could be beautiful just like Elsa. The gamer is invited to help the girl "realise her dream" with a "Picture Perfect Makeover."
Anaesthetise the patient by clicking on the needle, inject the nose, use the scalpel, suture the wound. By clicking on the blue hand the gamer can 'fix the nose.' The game continues until the character looks exactly like Elsa. The message here is simple and incredibly harmful to girls - if you look anything like the little girl, you need 'fixing' and that includes getting rid of your glasses. View more images from the game here.
"Plastic Surgery for Legs" begins with the message "Britney's legs look very bad" ... "help her feel happy again and improve your plastic surgery skills."
As the game proceeds, various problems with Britney's legs are labelled - 'fat hips' and 'slack knees.' Veins are surgically removed, hair is shaved, a hammer is used on knees to make them straight. Once Britney's legs are 'fixed' the game ends with the message "you need muscular tonus for perfect looking legs." More images here.
"Word Strip Tease" is another game featured on the site and was promoted via the website's Facebook page.
By typing in the correct words missing from sleazy pick up lines printed on screen, the sexualised character of your choice - a police officer, nurse or teacher - will strip off her clothing and layers of sexy lingerie.
The game warns "Beware: run out of time and the girls lose interest and put on their clothes again." More images here.
Each game produces more advertising for other games such as 'naughty teacher.' The object of another game - 'Naughty pool party' - is to sexually harass girls at a party through various tricks and pranks until they remove their clothing.
Exploiting young girls
The privacy statement of the website claims the site is not intended for girls under 13 years old. The design of the site and use of licensed characters demonstrates that it is clearly targeted at much younger girls than this. The website exploits girls by making money off the back of popular licensed characters, but does not take responsibility for the game content or advertising.
This interactive content sends a dangerous message to girls that they are valued for their sexual appeal and in their natural state, they require 'fixing.' In doing this, the site contributes to a broader toxic culture for girls.
A 2014 study from Flinders University has found that little girls are now adopting potentially sexualised behaviours usually associated with teenage girls. Little girls' engagement with teen culture is linked with an increased concern with physical appearance. Over one quarter of girls aged 8-10 were concerned about how they look.
We know from other studies such as the American Psychological Association's task force on the sexualisation of girls - that increased concern over physical appearance is linked with a range of negative health outcomes for girls, including depression, anxiety and disordered eating.
Should we be surprised about this outcome when this is the media being pushed to little girls?
Parents, guardians and teachers - check whether mafa.com and similar games sites are blocked by web filters. Make deliberate choices through parental control settings as to what entertainment sites can be accessed. Check out the Australian Council of Children and the Media for guidance. www.childrenandmedia.org.au
- visit the website here and click on 'contact' in the bottom left hand corner of the page
- Leave a comment on the facebook page for mafa.comhttps://www.facebook.com/mafagames
Let Disney know about the misuse of its licensed characters via email and via twitter.
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