March 21, 2013

Furby crazy

The Furby craze has been trending in Thailand in the recent months.  From memory, I seem to recall the existence of what used-to-be-a-cute creature for a 5 year old from years and years ago; possibly it hit the market right about the time when I was barely 10 years old. I recognized that it was cute, but I never really did have any affinity to Furby. (or my parents just weren;t rich enough to buy me one)

But this Furby craze took over my office by storm. My (younger) Thai colleagues whose average age ranges from 25-29 years ol have all been swooning over this furry thing. While a handful of us are working and typing away vigorously at our desks trying to concentrate the tasks at hand, these kids play with Furby. They learn Furbish and they speak Furbish, and from the corner of where I am sitting, I could hear giggles and strange sounding baby-babbles, only to discover that Furby was having some strange conversations with my human colleagues.

What an odd thing! I would have thought that Furby are for kids below 10 years old, but apparently in Thailand, specifically in my office, those of the older age group are so into them that they all are willing to learn an alien language.

What I find more intriguing is the fact that the craze has gone so over the top that the Science Ministry had even issued a warning to parents about Furby. The warnings are highlighted as these:

International Anti-Ageing Medicine Institute director Dr Krissada Sirampuch said seven impacts of kids playing with high-tech toys including the cute, furry Furby robotic toy were;

1. Children become so obsessed with the toy that they lose the ability to interact with people around them or become hostile to society.

2. Children become overly attached to the toy, causing them to pay less attention in class if they take it to school.

3. Children enjoy playing with the toy until past their bedtime, causing them to sleep late, which affects their body’s ability to produce growth hormone.

4. Children obsessed with virtual pet or tablet games might assume that violently treating real small pets is all right because the animals won’t really die and can be “fixed”, as in toys or games.

5. Children playing alone with toys could develop the habit of talking to themselves, which could slow down their speech and brain development. Because children’s brains can’t differentiate real voices from artificial ones, they may start to copy the toy’s voice and speak like a cartoon character.

6. Children playing with toys all day might refuse to play sports or run around outdoors with other kids. This could affect their playing skills, which are important in the development of muscles and the brain. They could also become passive and overweight, or even sick from flu, cold, allergies and Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.

Mind you, this is an official news report, and an official document – a warning serious enough to make it into the news!

My brains on the other hand, is struggling to make some sense of the warnings issued because it made me wonder if someone wrote this up as a serious joke and trying to play mind games with me as somehow my not-so-smart brain is not able to make the connections! For the 5 warnings above, my take is to just take the damn Furby away from the kids so they won’t get overtly attached to the toys or play with it till past bedtime.

And 25 year olds playing with Furby and diligently learning Furbish –  I mean, what did I miss here?!

Amazing Thailand. This country has really gone furby-crazy.

Original article of the above can be found here.

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