For parents, babies may just be starting to learn a few things such as sitting up, chewing solid food or crawling on their tummies, but one company is providing a way to introduce them to the iPad as early as possible.
Toy manufacturer Fisher-Price is selling an $80 bouncy seat for babies which may be similar to most bouncy seats in the market, except that it has an attachment where parents can insert an iPad. The Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat for iPad allows parents to strap a baby to the reclining bouncy chair and slip an Apple tablet into the attached case that sits several inches above the infant's face.
The purpose of the product is to allow the baby to watch videos aimed for young children. The idea, however, is being criticized by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), a Boston-based child advocacy group.
Susan Linn, director of CCFC said that the 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."
The group started a letter-writing campaign on Tuesday to urge Mattel, the parent company of Fisher-Price, to recall and stop selling 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. To date, the group has collected more than 1,400 signatures for the petition.
The product has received one review so far and the reviewer chose to give it a poor rating of 1 star (out of 5 stars), saying, ""I received this as a gift for my infant. While the seat is very nice, the idea of sitting my infant in front of an electronic device for entertainment is absurd to me. I can't imagine how the next generation might turn out if every baby is stuck in front of an Ipad for entertainment... terrible. This product will be kicked to the curb in my house."
The American Academy of Pediatrics also discourages "screen time" for children under two years, citing research that found infant videos can delay language development. Victor Strasburger, a doctor and professor of Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine also confirms that attaching iPads to babies' seats is not a good idea. "There is no need to hurry to expose kids to new technology, certainly not babies - or newborns," he advises.
The Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat for iPad is not the first young children's product to integrate the iPad into its design. CTA Digital's iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad, for instance, is a potty training toilet with a special stand to hold the iPad.
The shares of Mattel Inc., the parent company of Fisher-Price, were 1.64 percent down at $45.50 on the NASDAQ during afternoon trading session on Wednesday.