Toca Magazine's Identity Issue: How to See Kids for Who They Are
- Carl Frisell
“No kid should ever feel excluded by Toca Boca.”
Björn Jeffery, Toca Boca’s CEO and co-founder, challenged our company with this goal in 2015.
While this sentiment was already a part of our culture and reflected in our products, formalizing it as a goal and putting resources behind it has raised everyone’s consciousness. Over the last year, I’ve seen how our focus on diversity and inclusion has influenced the products we make for kids—for the better.
But why does this matter? As you’ll read in this identity-themed issue of Toca Magazine, the media kids consume can influence them, how they view themselves and how they view others. Considering how much media kids consume—often before they’re walking and talking—to be considered high quality and worthy of kids’ attention, media should support positive identity development.
When I was a kid growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, my mom often had to color in faces on greeting cards and in storybooks so I could see characters who looked a bit more like me. We’ve come a long way since then, but we’re not there yet. All kids deserve to see characters who look like them in the media they consume. All kids deserve to see characters of all backgrounds as protagonists in their own stories; relegating characters who are not white or who are not male (or any of the other “default” settings) to sidekick roles should be a thing of the past. The U.S. is more diverse than ever—children of color are now a majority in U.S. public schools—and kids’ media should reflect this.
All kids deserve to see characters who look like them in the media they consume.
My son is a cute little brown boy. Recently when we looked through the Top 200 paid iPad apps for kids, he didn’t see himself reflected, save for the cute little brown boy on the icon for Toca Life: School. Even before that character (his name’s Simon) was created, the apps in the Toca Life series were among my favorite apps for representing kids of many backgrounds. Through it more than 150 characters, the Life series not only addresses the more obvious facets of kids’ identities—like skin tone, hair texture, gender and age—but also addresses something else that’s central to how kids form their identity: their family. You can read about this in our interview with Toca Life team members.
Pick 100 kids, and you’ll hear 100 different ways they describe their identity. For Toca Magazine’s Identity Issue, we talked with kids to hear their own stories in their own words. We hope you enjoy getting to know them, along with the articles and tips on kids and identity. Please send us feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to visit TocaMagazine.com for more articles, more stories from kids, more tips and more fun.
Toca Magazine Staff
Ingrid Simone | Executive Editor
Sebastien Roux | Art Director
Andrew Lovold | Producer
Jonas Carlsson | Vice President, Brand & Marketing
Angelica Rabang | Designer
Dana Villamagna | Writer
Jenny Pritchett | Copy Editor