The Apptivity Seat.
An education expert says digital products are being
targeted at ever-younger infants, as a baby bouncer complete
with iPad holder goes on sale.
Toy company Fisher-Price says its Apptivity Seat, which
places an iPad directly in front of a newborn or toddler, is
a "niche product" that is only available online and is not
positioned as an educational tool.
But despite the caveat, the product has drawn condemnation
from the US-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood,
which is petitioning for it to be banned.
The group said there was no evidence babies benefited from
screen time and it could even be harmful.
"Babies need laps, not apps," the petition said.
A Fisher-Price spokesman said the Apptivity Seat would not be
sold in New Zealand.
Early childhood education expert Tara Fagan, a consultant
with Core Education who specialises in digital learning, said
she had not seen the product, but she would be concerned
about newborns and infants getting passive screen time.
"I would be very wary of it being educational."
Ms Fagan said she was not surprised the product had emerged,
and there was a trend towards marketing digital products to
younger and younger children.
But mobile devices had huge potential to support learning
when used well with young children.
"There's a big difference between screen time and just
watching, and actually being able to create and interact."
Ms Fagan said children were already exposed to iPads and
tablets from a young age by watching others using them at
There was no right age to introduce mobile devices to
children, and it was more about how they were introduced.
"We need to be careful about how children engage with it -
that it's done so alongside an adult, in a supportive
environment, because I think there is some good learning that
can come from it.
"But it doesn't replace any of the other learning that those
children should have. It's more of a balance."
In a statement, Fisher-Price said the product was not for
everyone, but it wanted to offer it as "yet another option
for those parents who want the added feature of engaging in
age-appropriate content with their children".
The company said the product had a time-out feature that
allowed 10 minutes of activity before the app required a
It said reviews from parents who had bought the seat showed
strong parental involvement and support.
Fisher-Price's senior director of child research, Dr Kathleen
Alfano, said children benefited from various stimulating
experiences, and exposure to media was the norm for many
She said parents should limit infants' viewing time, ensure
they took periodic breaks, review the content they were
exposed to and be with infants while they were viewing media.