December 14, 2013

"iPad baby seat inspires campaign to stop the parenting apocalypse."

Check out the Fisher-Price the Apptivity Seat. Link goes to an article in the L.A. Times, not to Amazon, as you might suspect, but if you want to buy one, here's the Amazon link. The L.A. Times article includes some snark from comments at Amazon, stuff like:
"This product is great. Exactly what I was looking for. Everyone should own one of these. Fisher-Price does it again. Hail Satan."
But let's be fair-minded. Let's compare this product (with the iPad inserted) to the usual distract-a-baby devices. There's television and there are those horrible mobiles people hang over cribs. Here, for example, is the Fisher-Price Discover 'n Grow Twinkling Lights Projector Mobile. Why would we think that is better than an iPad? First, you need to ask, what are the iPad apps for babies?
Check out Infant Visual Stimulation By Think Design Studio and Early Sensory Stimulation for Your Infant. These things look better than the DVDs of Disney movies or episodes of "Sesame Street" that people put on the TV for babies, and they seem immensely better than those nightmarish mobiles.

Here's a NYT article — "New Milestone Emerges: Baby’s First iPhone App" — with some info on how much time babies spend in front of various screens. (American Academy of Pediatrics says the amount for children under 2 should be: zero.)
The survey found that children under 2, on average, spend an hour a day in front of screens — engaging in activities like watching television, using computers, viewing DVDs, playing with mobile apps. Children ages 2 to 4 averaged two hours a day, and those 5 to 8, two hours and 20 minutes.
It seems to me, in the real world, an Apptivity Seat with a high-quality baby app is a pretty good idea compared to the alternatives, unless the alternative is holding the baby in your arms and talking and singing or whatever the real, old-time human interactions were. Of course, we still do that much of the time, but not all of the time. In that off-the-lap time, what's the baby supposed to do? Not for too long, of course.

NOTE: If you told me it harms the development of the baby's eyesight, I would completely change my mind on this. Personally, I believe staring at the computer caused me to start to need reading glasses, but maybe that would have happened anyway, and I had the bad habit of locking on to the computer screen, for many hours a day, often more than 10 hours a day.


Shouting Thomas said...

My granddaughter, at six months, loves the iPad and can't do a thing on it. Eye-hand coordination not yet there. For some reason, the iPad commands her attention over the TV. She keeps trying to take it away from me.

I downloaded one of those apps that allows baby to tap a pic of a cow, which then pops up full size and is accompanied by a "Moo!"

The moralizing about how much time baby spends in front of a screen seems like a long lost cause. Everybody spends all their time in front of a screen. My daughter and son-in-law have Galaxy smart phones that are a quarter the size of a tablet. With Skype, they can all each other and see one another, courtesy of Face Time. The baby can see Daddy at work!

As the internet and smart phones continue to create a new human neural network, why would you want to exclude your baby from the newly emerging world by turning off the screens?

I took my iPad to a Christmas party last night and bored the old farts with dozens of pics of my granddaughter. Brought to mind this George Carlin bit.

Sky said...

I have 3 kids - 5, 2, and 3 months - and we have had an iPad since the oldest was about 18 months. We let the kids use them much more than the AAP recommends, so we are the archetypal evil neglectful parents.

We do lock down the iPad so they can only access developmentally appropriate apps, and mostly educational ones. They have no access to the internet or YouTube unless I am holding the iPad.

To me there is little difference between giving an infant an iPad with an app that responds to tapping on the screen by playing a musical note, and a plastic piano that responds to tapping by playing a musical note.

And for anything where repeated drilling helps - number and letter recognition, learning colors, sight words - the iPad apps are a lot better than flashcards with mommy. So the flashcards sit in the cupboard, but our kids still know all their numbers, letters, shapes and colors at 18 months.

I wouldn't buy this fisher-price device because it mounts the screen too far for the baby to touch it, which defeats the purpose IMO.

As far as eyesight goes, I would guess that's about 12" from baby's face, and babies seem to have no eye fatigue from staring at me for hours while they nurse. I guess the light from the screen might make a difference, but thus far my kids are fine.

Anonymous said...

Infants are just iBaby Apps for the Human iPads. Touch My Screen: Touch it.

Anonymous said...

We Store Our Songs, Our Files, Our Lives in the Cloud. Babies Come from the Bigger Cloud. In Cloud We Trust.

Deirdre Mundy said...

My toddler (she'll be 2 in January) is the master of the iPod touch. She's especially good at taking selfies, changing the background to her latest selfie, and deleting any games I put on there. Oh! And setting timers. She loves setting timers.

I find the iPod is a great distractor for when I need to cook supper or for when we're waiting in a long, boring line and she wants to run in circles.

Anything can be overused with a baby. Babies who spend all day in baby seats can get hip problems, walkers can cause problems, and parking the kid in a crib all day can cause problems. But you know what? Most people don't do those things to excess. The baby gets lots of talk and attention and arm time and lap time, and the distractors are just a way to get them to STOP interacting with people long enough so that hot pasta can be drained, or a shower can happen, or a mess can be cleaned up.

Of course, what do I know? I've let my toddler watch Bubble Guppies on Amazon streaming so I can take a 15 minute power nap!

Wince said...

There's got to be some benefit to a baby who's acclimating to this world by seeing and touching actual objects, their shapes, colors and textures and observing the forces of nature between them.

Turn that screen off..."you know it's bad for your eyes".

campy said...

"If you don't stop it, you'll go blind."

Unknown said...

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends ZERO screen time for children before 2 years of age- ZERO.

One of the proposed explanations on the increase in autism is the explosion in early TV use for children when some of the most fundamental brain development is happening. Things like human social cue reading and perception brain pathways are just forming at ages 2-3.

ALP said...

My one question is this: screens are an immersion into a 2D world. Is there anything lost by not interacting in 3D as often? Its all x and y axis, no z. Screens are not a tactile experience, no textures or smell.

Freeman Hunt said...

Nevermind. My deleted comment was about a different product.

Freeman Hunt said...

There are parents who have their kids in front of screens nearly all the time because the children are then "easier to manage." That is harmful and, if I recall correctly, associated with sensory disorders because the child then does not get enough interaction with the physical world.

What is the amount of time that will take a child over the edge into harm? I don't know. It obviously isn't helpful for the AAP to tell people to limit the time to zero. These devices are ubiquitous. They're too integrated into people's daily lives. They hear zero and think, "That's impossible!" and may stop trying to limit at all.

Better, more realistic guidelines should be written.

(I don't write that out of self interest. I'm uncommonly strict about media. My toddler gets zero iPad time.)

Ann Althouse said...

They say zero because they have no way to know what amount is safe.

It's like saying don't drink any amount during pregnancy. Way too much is known to cause brain damage, and who knows where the line between nothing and something is.

So the advice is: zero.

That does make sense. But 5 or 10 minutes a day of gazing at some iPad sensory development app s probably better than watching part of a movie on TV, which we have been letting babies do since the 1950s.