My eight-year-old is tech savvy. The Virgin Media ‘masters of entertainment’ advert is an accurate depiction of her – she literally rolls her eyes every time she watches me take what is apparently the “longest route possible” to find my favourite TV show. As someone from generation MSN-Messenger, I’m quite offended when she insinuates that I don’t know what I’m doing. Where was she when we were all making our own websites on Piczo, hey? But clearly, she knows a thing or two that I don’t, so I try to encourage this smart, tecchy side of her where I can.
I signed her up to Code Club, which was great but it was quite far away and just didn’t fit around our schedule so we had to give it up. I didn’t want to stop there though, so I spent a while looking for things to encourage this from home. We have a whole drawer full of spy watches, circuit boards, infrared glasses, the lot. But, of course, all of the boxes they came in all looked something like this:
Not very encouraging when you’re an eight-year-old black girl, I can assure you.
But all was not to be lost, I somehow managed to find Dr Jess Wade on Twitter who introduced my daughter and me to Detective Dot , a character created by a company who seemed to hear exactly what I had been screaming about since my daughter was old enough to play with toys.
In today’s kids’ cartoons + TV shows, 0% of princesses are coders, boys are twice as likely to take the lead, less than 3% of characters are people-of-colour and 92% of females are underweight? And not one superhero recycles.
Stories teach children what to think about themselves and the world around them. And kids are constantly bombarded with subtle and not-so-subtle messages – for up to eight hours a day. So in a world where silly cartoon princesses are the norm, we set out to create cool, bright, diverse characters that have interesting and challenging adventures across the world. And as we’re techies, we use technology to engage kids in fun, new ways.
Could Detective Dot be any more perfect? My daughter is an official member of the CIA – the Children’s Intelligence Agency. Don’t ask me for any more information on it as I’ve been told, in no uncertain terms, that the information is classified and not for grown-ups to hear. All I know is that Detective Dot rocked my eight-year-old’s world. She read the book within a day and has been on secret mission after secret mission since Dot’s arrival. She has been talking to me in algorithms so that nothing can go wrong when I look for my favourite TV shows.
Detective Dot gave my daughter the boost she needed. I can’t wait for the day that characters like her are the norm.