Teen Girls & Video Games

Oh dear. Our young tween and teen girls are being targeted again. And this time, it’s a relatively new video game called “Disney’s City Girl” that I am concerned about. Although this video game appears to be being marketed toward 20-somethings, I have a strong hunch that it is the tweens and teens who will be playing this game.

So here is what goes on in this game. It starts with girls graduating from college and wanting to move from the country to the city. That seems like a reasonable goal in and of itself. However, once these young women get to the city, guess what they appear to be restricting their activities to? Yep, you probably guessed correctly if you said shopping, decorating their apartments and getting jobs. The problem is that all of the young women come in small sizes. They appear to be the modern-day version of Barbie dolls. I must say though that they come in all colors, so that is at least a nod to ethnic diversity. The items that they can shop for appear to be unusually tight and many appear to be quite short and revealing. What has me most disturbed is the limited professions that they can choose from. They can either be a chef or a fashion designer. But get this — soon, they will be able to choose to be either musicians or writers. This seems quite stereotypical, no?

In my role as a clinical psychologist, I work hard to convince teen girls and young women that we come in all shapes and sizes and that self-worth is more than about the circumference of their waists and thighs. I also try to persuade them that shopping does not necessarily fill emotional voids. OK, so a little shopping may make you feel better, but life is not simply about shopping, is it? Why, I’d like to know, aren’t these 20-something characters in the video game exploring passions, working on friendships or even discussing interesting topics? There would be nothing wrong with having them read a newspaper or a book either. I’d love to see that. Instead, the old stereotypes of what girls do is perpetuated.

I am absolutely convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that although this game appears to be some sort of version of “Sex and the City” and may appear to be marketed to 20-somethings, it will nonetheless end up on the screens of young teens and older teens.

Listen, I played the game with a friend just an hour ago and it is quite addicting. Parents, please take a look at the video games that your daughters are playing. I believe that we have been focusing almost exclusively on the video games that boys play. You know the ones that I am talking about — the violent ones where the goal is to kill and destroy. In my opinion, the games targeted to both our sons and daughters leave a lot to be desired.