BOSTON, MA – December 10 – December 10—Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is calling on Fisher-Price to immediately stop selling its Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® device. The Apptivity Seat is a bouncy seat for infants with a place for an iPad directly above the baby’s face, blocking his or her view of the rest of the world. Because screens can be mesmerizing and because babies are strapped down and “safely” restrained, it encourages parents to leave infants—even newborns—alone in the seat with an iPad.
“The Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® device is 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 CCFC’s Director, Dr. Susan Linn. “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.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages any screen time for children under two. There’s no evidence that babies benefit from screen time and some evidence that it may be harmful. Research suggests that screen time for children under two is linked to language delays, sleep disturbance, and learning problems later in childhood. Studies also suggest that time with screens takes babies away from activities proven to be beneficial to brain development—hands-on creative play and positive interactions with caring adults.
“By manufacturing a device to restrain infants in front of a screen, even when they’re too young to sit up, Fisher-Price actually discourages interactions that are crucial to learning and healthy development,” said Dr. Linn. “Babies thrive when they’re talked to, played with, and held—not when they’re alone with a screen.”
“Attaching iPads to babies’ bouncy seats is a terrible idea,” said Victor Strasburger, MD, Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at University of New Mexico School of Medicine. “Does anyone out there think that kids need more screen time? There is no need to hurry to expose kids to new technology, certainly not babies—or newborns!”
CCFC has a long history of successful advocacy to stop media companies from deceptively marketing products as educational for babies. In 2009, CCFC’s efforts led the Walt Disney Company to offer an unprecedented refund on Baby Einstein DVDs. In 2012, in response to a CCFC complaint, the Federal Trade Commission issued a landmark judgment against the video series Your Baby Can Read. Currently, the FTC is investigating CCFC’s complaint against Fisher-Price’s Laugh & Lear apps. But because the Apptivity Seat restrains babies in front of a screen, encouraging parents to leave infants all alone with an iPad, CCFC is taking the unprecedented step of asking for a recall, rather than urging Fisher-Price to modify the way the seat is marketed.
Since Amazon.com selected the the Appivity Seat as one of the best gifts for kids for 2013, the site has been deluged with scathing reviews, calling the Apptivity Seat a terrible product for babies.
Added Dr. Linn, “Fisher-Price is damaging its reputation as a brand parents can trust. They should pull the plug on the Apptivity Seat and go back to the drawing board.”
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration amongorganizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).