In 1998, the widely known childhood toy, Furby, was launched to the public. Furby was a furry hamster like robotic creature that could talk and turn its head and bat its eyelashed. Furbies had two languages built into them, furbish and english, and were said to speak less furbish and more english as they grow. Tiger electronics began selling these furry robots for $35 and as they became more popular around the holidays, some parents were paying up to $300 per toy. At first they were a cute, fun, toy for children until they started getting labeled, “creepy,” and were becoming banned across America. As this toy grew in popularity, some could argue that it became a moral panic.
At the peak of the Furby’s popularity, rumors started spreading and putting a negative light on Furby. Because it gradually learned english, adults were worried that the toy actually repeated words said around it. Some parents swore that their children were able to teach furby curse words for it to repeat back to them. Americans were saying that this toy is an “immediate and real danger.” The National Security Agency thought that when people would take the toys home, they would repeat secret information that they had heard. Some bloggers even said that Furbies were a “chinese spy targeted at the youth of America.” With negative headlines labeling these toys as dangerous and creepy, they were quickly removed from homes across America.
At this time, some Americans believed that Furby was a threat to social values, while others argued that it was an innocent toy. Parents argued that children were taking an interest in learning new curse words to teach to their toy and Americans were worried that their private information was being stored in Furby. While these rumors were eventually proven as false, there was a period of time that Furbies caused a moral panic throughout America.