Is it a clever way to combat childhood obesity, or a poor excuse for playtime?
By now you've probably seen that Fisher-Price released a controversial new toy at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Showcase in Las Vegas. And unlike that fake toddler "happy hour" playset that was circulating just before Christmas, the new stationary bike for toddlers, complete with a tablet screen, is the real deal.
The Think & Learn Smart Cycle, which is expected to hit stores in the fall for kiddos ages 3-6, is meant to help battle childhood obesity and make it easier for kids to get in that recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise. While your tot is pedaling along (and you're finally managing to meal prep, balance your bank account, and ya know, sit down for a hot second), she can play games on the built-in tablet that keep her mind engaged too. The tablet works with your iPhone or Android, comes with one free app, and works with four others. And Fisher-Price has promised to release more apps that sync with the bike soon. Priced at $150, it's not a bad bargain—but does it send the wrong message?
Some parents are definitely on board, especially those who don't live in suburban areas where outdoor space is plentiful. "Some kids don't have backyards, nearby parks or safe neighborhoods where they can play," one commenter wrote over on Gizmodo. "I think it's better for kids to play outside, but if your kid has to be inside, this is better than sitting still."
Another wrote: "As a fat kid who became a fat adult, who worked hard to lose the weight AND a father who keeps good food in the house so my son naturally gravitated to fruit and vegetables so I'm sparing him from the obesity that I lived through... I like this product."
However, as impactful as this new toy could be for those kids who need more movement on the daily, some parents find it unnecessary and believe it continues the trend of additional screen time. "Geez are all parents just shoving a tablet in their kids face as soon as possible?" another comment on Gizmodo reads. "My daughter is going on 4 and how many tablets we have in the house? Zero! She in the last year decided TV wasn't her thing (lost complete interest in it) and is content with her good'ol Brio set." A fourth commenter doesn't want yet another toy to distract his child from getting some shut-eye: "No. Just no. Dinner. Some light playing with blocks. Bath. Then storytime and a snack. The last thing you want to do is wind a child up right before bedtime."
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This is actually Fisher-Price's second version of the Smart Cycle. Its first model, released in 2007, used TV plug-and-play technology, and was one of the company's most successful product launches ever, according to CNN Money. “Inspired by the insight that preschoolers learn best and retain more when they’re active and having a good time, we’ve reimagined the Think & Learn Smart Cycle for a new generation of children,” Nitya Madhavan, vice president of marketing for Fisher-Price, told Digital Trends.
So what do you think? Would you invest in this toy for your babe?