Infants need to be active, not staring at screens

iPad Bouncy SeatThe iPad Bouncy Seat: ‘An Embarrassment For Humankind.’ The Huffington Post, December 3, 2013.

A piece at once comical and rather sad. It’s about a product developed by Fisher Price, which allows parents essentially to strap their infants and toddlers in front of a screen and ignore them. The idea here is that parents are busy and need time away from their kids. So why not strap them in a baby’s seat in front of a screen while the parent goes off and gets a latte or sends a few text messages?

Ludicrous on one level. Almost sounds like a joke. But Fisher Price is a serious business, meaning it’s a company looking for serious profits through the sale of its products.

As the article makes clear, use of the product flies in the face of both the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics that children experience no screen time before the age of 2 and our understanding that children need time in their infant and toddler years to explore the world in order for them to grow up to be curious and healthy human beings. 

Let me expand on the second point a bit. What we understand both about child psychology development and child neurological maturation is that kids need to be actively engaged with the outer world, on the level of human and object contact. The screen is no substitute for such real life opportunities. So parents who use a gadget like the bouncy seat may be doing their kids some serious developmental damage. In the short run, the parent get to drink their latte or do their texting. But in the long run, the child’s development can be seriously damaged.