Fisher-Price sparked controversy recently with its new product, the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat, an activity seat that comes with an iPad holder, along with traditional bat-at toys and a mirror. Free iPad apps are also available for developmental, soothing, and early learning during Baby's seat time.
While this "apptivity" seat seems like an easy way to distract and educate a baby, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages screen exposure for babies under 2. Studies have shown that children younger than 2 who watch television and videos may have expressive language delays, and children younger than 1 who watch a lot of television alone have a significantly higher chance of speech delays.
Fisher-Price is a company we rely on for great kids toys, so why would it put out an educational product that goes against the AAP's recommendation? "We strive to provide thoughtful features and solutions for parents that we've identified through their needs," Kathleen Alfano, Ph.D. and senior director of child research at Fisher-Price, told ABC news in a statement.
It's clear that the company isn't on a mission to hinder Baby's development — it's just trying to sell a product in a competitive market.
Let's not forget that parents have complete control over their parenting choices. "We know the Apptivity Seat isn't for everyone. We want to give parents options, which is why we have over a dozen infant seats from which they can choose," Alfano says. And of course, parents can and should limit their baby's screen time, whether they have this particular product or not.
Regardless of the AAP's recommendations, parents are, realistically, going to pass their phones or iPads to their babies to distract or engage them from time-to-time. No one needs to feel guilty about doing this in moderation – it's 2013 and screens are nearly impossible to avoid. But you might want to steer away from products that encourage extended screen-time and opt for a more traditional toy or product.
If a parent is going to buy this product or one like it, they should consider this: Person-to-person interaction with babies is fundamental to their development. Allowing an iPad to replace human interaction with digital engagement for extended periods risks denying your baby of the excitement of the real world around him. So whether it's in an "apptivity" seat or elsewhere, we can all try to use digital distractions less, and human ones more.
Image via Fisher-Price