iPad baby seat raises questions about infants and tech
Pediatric society recommends against any 'screen time' for children under age of 2
A new baby seat that comes with an iPad mount has some parents and experts worried that children that age are far too young to be getting screen time.
Fisher-Price's Apptivity Seat for iPad Devices includes a special bracket and bar that holds up a tablet so young children — from newborns to toddlers — can view videos or apps or play games while sitting in the bouncy seat.
But it has raised the eyebrows of parents like Emily Essay, who said she would not buy one for her son, Kade.
"I would prefer to interact with my baby and play with him, as opposed to having a device that does that," said Essay, who took Kade to a music class at Nest Family Centre in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
Carla Bennett, the mother of a seven-month-old girl, said she realizes "that it's hard, sort of, in our society, with iPhones and our computers and our TVs and stuff like that. But we do try to limit it, and we have lots of other options for toys."
Doctors warn against any screen time
The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends no screen time — meaning the use of televisions, computers and mobile devices — for children under the age of two, even for educational applications.
Children between the ages of two and four should be limited to less than an hour of "educational programming" a day, according to the society's physical activity guidelines.
"There is no evidence that these educational applications, games, TV programs really make any difference for the kids' cognitive abilities and their development," said Dr. Stan Lipnowski, a Winnipeg pediatrician who represents Manitoba and Nunavut on the society's board of directors.
In an email to CBC News, a Fisher-Price official said the Apptivity seat offers another option for parents to "stimulate and engage" their children.
"We know the Apptivity Seat isn’t for everyone, but we created the iPad feature for those times when parents want to use this option as another way to stimulate and engage their baby," Dr. Kathleen Alfano, Fisher-Price's senior director of child research, stated in the email.
"If parents don’t want to use the iPad, they can remove the device and a mirror will be overhead, or they can remove the bar completely. The choice is theirs."
'Right in their face'
But early childhood educator Andrea Winther said the Apptivity seat limits a baby's ability to move around, as well as takes away from the child's one-on-one interaction with a parent or caregiver.
"It's right in their face and they don't have anywhere else to look," she said.
As well, Winther said watching apps on a tablet's screen can overstimulate a baby.
"They can't focus on one or two things. They're overwhelmed," she said.
"As an adult, when you get overwhelmed, you can get up and leave a room or you can find a quiet place. A baby can't do that."