Fisher-Price’s infant iPad seat raises concerns about baby screen time
Fisher-Price’s infant iPad seat raises concerns about baby screen time
December 10, 2013   //   Business   //   Comments are off

A newborn baby can’t hold or even swipe at an iPad, but Fisher-Price is providing a way to keep infants glued to the device.

The Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat for iPad allows parents to strap a baby to the reclining bouncy chair and slip a tablet into an attached case that hovers several inches above the infant’s face.

The seat is chafing parents and child advocates who say the introduction of screen technology so early is harmful to the health and development of babies. Fisher-Price’s seat seems to hit a new low, they say, but other retailers are promoting holiday gifts that integrate tech into baby gear, even a potty training seat with iPad stand.

Fisher-Price’s iPad seat is the “ultimate electronic babysitter, whose very existence suggests that it’s fine to leave babies as young as newborns all alone and with an iPad inches from their face.” said Susan Linn, director of child advocacy group The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

The group on Tuesday launched a letter-writing campaign aimed at persuading Mattel, the parent company of Fisher-Price, cease sales of the seat.

“Fisher-Price should stay true to its mission to foster learning and development by creating products for infants that promote, rather than undermine, interaction with caregivers,” Linn said.

Victor Strasburger, a doctor and professor of Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine calls attaching iPads to babies’ bouncy seats “a terrible idea.”

“Does anyone out there think that kids need more screen time?” Strasburger asked. “There is no need to hurry to expose kids to new technology, certainly not babies — or newborns!”

Mattel did not respond to a request for comment on the iPad seat, but the firm promotes the seat as a way to entertain and foster a baby’s physical development. “It’s a grow-with-me seat for baby that’s soothing, entertaining, and has a touch of technology, too,” Fisher-Price describes.

The company is already under pressure by the CCFC and other advocacy groups who have complained to the Federal Trade Commission that Fisher-Price’s mobile Apptivity suite of apps deceives consumers with promised educational benefits when little research has been done to prove that online sites can help babies’ brain development.

Mattel encourages parents to download its Apptivity apps on their iPads that, “for the youngest baby feature soft, soothing sounds and nature scenes, black-and-white images and high-contrast patterns that help develop eye-tracking skills.”

Other retailers have created similar products aimed at putting screen devices in front of children at the earliest ages.

CTA Digital’s 2-in-1 iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad allows babies and toddlers to tap away at a tablet positioned in front of the plastic potty training bowl. The company, which makes accessories for tablets and video games, has a commissioned study on its site that touts the use of technology for child development, including potty training.

“Many young children already love playing with their parents’ iPad, and now they can safely do so with the iPotty,” CTA Digital describes on its Web site. “It provides a fun and comfortable place to sit, while learning how to safely use the potty, playing apps, reading books or watching video clips.”

The slew of new baby tech products have drawn criticism from parents blasting CTA and Fisher-Price on Amazon.com’s customer reviews.Fisher-Price’s seat had more than 100 reviews, many negative.

“If you want to damage your child’s development, buy this chair. Children of a very young age are genetically programmed to respond positively to interacting with PEOPLE. Even if they are just watching the world go by. This is a horrible gadget,” wrote one reviewer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages screen time for children under the age of 2, including mobile technology. As companies rush to integrate technology into toys, baby gear and classrooms, doctors and child advocates say children today are immersed more than ever in a world of screens. That constant access to games, television and the Internet may be taking away from family time, exercise and discovery in the physical world, critics say.

-Source : The Washington Post