You may have heard about the new bouncy chair for infants that enables parents to mount an iPad directly in front of the baby’s face. This product from Fisher Price has raised the eyebrows of a lot of skeptical parents, and rightfully so. In my observations of parent-friends, a bouncy chair is best for infants, and toddlers generally won’t sit still in them. Presumably, then, this product is meant to encourage tablet use by children under age two. But the American Academy of Pediatrics makes the following recommendation:
Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.
This wisdom, based on common sense as well as research
on brain development, seems to be no barrier to the makers (and purchasers) of several other similar products.
is designed to clip on to a stroller cross bar, a shopping cart, or any other horizontal mounting surface, to keep the tablet screen in front of the child’s face. I can certainly understand the need to occupy a child’s attention on long car trips and such. But when you’re out for a walk in a park, or another place filled with visual stimuli to engage the child’s mind, is it really necessary to block that view with a screen?
keeps a tablet accessible to a child while s/he is potty training. My parent-friends have used books, songs, and other distractions to encourage a child to stay seated until the business is done, but a tablet mounted right in front of him? What if the child learns to associate bathroom trips with tablets, and can only go #1 or #2 if he has an iPad with him?
I get it: parenting is incredibly difficult at times, and iPads provide a valuable distraction at crucial moments. But these products seem to make it far too easy to keep a screen in front of a child’s face, when she could be wondering, daydreaming, asking questions, and learning from the people and world around her.