Mattel "toyologist" competition sparks child exploitation fears

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Melbourne, Sept 28 (ANI): Mattel's competition to find two Australian children, who would be willing to accept more than 200 dollars in toys each month for a year in exchange for online video reviews, has sparked fears of child exploitation.

Marketing experts have said that while the competition provides valuable consumer research for the toy company, Mattel needs to be very aware of the fine line it was treading between indulging a child's every wish and possible exploitation.

"My concern with the way in which we are putting young kids in the spotlight in things like this and Junior MasterChef is that on the internet, what is published is never going to go away because everything you put online stays there forever," the Courier Mail quoted Deakin University marketing lecturer Michael Callaghan as saying.

Mattel marketing manager for Australia and New Zealand Meagan Reay said the company was well aware of its responsibilities when it came to working with children.

"We do keep it very, very appropriate. There are no deadlines to keep," Reay said.

She said the children's feedback on toys yet to be released played an important role in future decision-making.

"Australia is such a small market, there's a lot of stuff we don't get in, but the past 12 months have opened our eyes to the types of products we might have missed out on getting," she explained.

QUT advertising lecturer Rebekah Russell-Bennett said while concerns could be raised about putting children out too early into the adult world, the competition could not be run without parental consent.

"But I think it would be the kids, not their parents, who would be pushing to go into a competition like this," Russell-Bennett said.

"I know a lot of parents don't want their kids on the internet, but the younger generation likes to live their life in public. Kids love to take videos and put stuff on YouTube," she added. (ANI)

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