What do toddlers like? They like having a parent’s legs to hide behind when the world gets a little bit too big and scary. They like being tickled. And they like being pushed on a swing. But most of all they like smearing food on their faces (and anywhere else). They like putting all sorts of things in their mouths, and they like throwing things. And the things that go in their mouths are often the things that were meant for throwing. And vice versa.
All these facts about babies and toddlers are by way of a preamble to explaining just a few of the very practical reasons why the Mattel Fisher-Price ‘newborn-to-toddler-aptivity-seat-for-iPad’ is a concept that should swiftly be filed in that big box labelled, ‘Worst. Ideas. Ever’. Right up there with Second Screen Live (a concept that still makes us shudder just to type the words). Or the potty training seat with iPad case attached (oh, the hygiene challenges…)
And that’s not even touching on the most important reason. Like the whole developmental thing…
Because the Fisher-Price toy is just like many other bouncy seats for babies, except this one replaces the regular old toy mobile with a holder for an iPad.
As noted by AllThingsD, there are quite a few folk out there who think this is not so stellar. Folk who actually have children, presumably.
And, luckily, some of them are quite vocal in their displeasure. A Boston-based group community organisation has collected 1400 signatures for a petition asking for the unit to be recalled, and noting quite sensibly, that even though contraption namechecks toddlers, its own advertising makes it clear that it’s really directed at immobile babies. Babies who are strapped in and force fed the images on the screen.
“We think this toy is the worst of the worst,” says Josh Golin, the associate director of Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood. He adds that his group backs the American Academy of Paediatrics, which recommends avoiding all screen time for children under the age of two.
Golin’s organisation has been fighting the good fight against ill thought out, dangerous and downright ridiculous products aimed at children for the last 13 years. It even gives out awards akin to the Hollywood Razzies, in that they highlight the worst of the worst. The bouncy seat was considered so bad, it wasn’t even considered for the awards.
“This product was so potentially harmful it wasn’t appropriate for our award and demanded a much stronger response, which is why we are calling for a recall,” says Golin.
Apparently, the group has brought some pressure to bear on the toy manufacturer, which currently advertises the product with the following
mealy-mouthed caveat spiel: “[The seat's] adjustable toy bar has dangling activity toys that are always within reach, and a large, 7in mirror that’s more than entertaining as it reflects baby’s image – it’s also beneficial for facial recognition and developing a sense of self.”
As MacDailyNews reports, Mattel says inserting an iPad into the mirror’s case is optional and billed as just “another way to stimulate and engage your child”. Also, the “iPad holder removes completely when you want a traditional seat”. Mattel also recommends that users “download free apps that were created with the guidance of child development experts”.
Further, the toy manufacturer has released a statement responding to the requests for a product recall. “It is unfortunate that factual omissions about the product, such as the mandatory reset feature, which only allows for 10 minutes of activity before requiring a manual reset, and parent reviews from those who have actually purchased the product which show strong parent involvement and support, have not been accurately characterised in recent reports. This seat is one of over a dozen we offer within our current line of Babygear products and this is the only seat with an option for device integration for parents who prefer the technology integration option.”
Still sounds like a rubbish idea to us…