Episode 37: The Ogre App to Discipline Your Child (Oni Kara Denwa)

Ever since I saw a mother discipline her child by threatening to call an oni/ogre, I’ve been wanting to do talk about this. Then I found out it really is a thing, an app called Oni Kara Denwa (A Call From an Oni, or as it’s translated in Japanese: Ghost Call) to be more precise.

In Episode 37, I talk about what I’ve heard playfully called the Oni App. It has over 10 million downloads and purports to help you raise your child. I’ve got a lot of thoughts and feelings about this one, but I try as much as possible to be objective when giving you an explanation of what it is and what it does.

What do you think? Useful? Traumatizing?

You can also find me on:

Notes: Intro/Outro music by Julyan Ray Matsuura. Here and here. And here.

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3 Responses

  1. I think it defers parenting to something else, not even a someone else, which seems more like another of those “internet of things” situations and, as with any app, I have to consider what information is being gained by its use by the app provider.

  2. Thanks for doing an episode on 鬼から電話. It sure raises quite a few questions, like you said in the podcast. Since I’m a clinical child and youth psychologist, I got very interested to dig a little deeper. So, I’ve checked out the app myself now, and done some cursory searching on the Webs.

    Here in Sweden corporal punishment has been prohibited by law since 1979. In my view, this app would be illegal over here (at least some of the oni in it!). It’s also fairly out of line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child… If I met parents who used this app with a patient of mine, I’d be obliged by law to report them so Social Services. We’d also start helping them to find other strategies, without an app, to raise their kid.

    That said, raising your child is hard work over a looong time. I really think this app makes a good job at fooling parents into feeling short term “successful”. I’m worried about the long term effects… for the relation between the child and the parent.

    Anyway. Thanks for covering it. I had totally missed it, and it’s apparently been around since 2013ish.

    1. Andreas! This is fascinating! I was absolutely torn apart when I saw it used. I’m also worried about the long-term effects, and basically how actually lazy it is. I wish you could come over and tell these moms what they are potentially doing. I was also shocked not only about how long it’s been around but by how many downloads there have been. I have some stories about when I was raising my child (things mother-in-law did and said) that are quite shocking. This really was a difficult episode for me. Thank you for commenting.

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