Baby seat with iPad holder worries Montreal parents, educators
Canadian Pediatric Society recommend children under two not be exposed to screens
A new baby seat featuring a special holder for iPads is raising concerns from both Montreal parents and childhood education specialists.
Advertisements for toymaker Fisher Price's "Apptivity Seat for iPad device" say electronic devices can have educational benefits for newborns and toddlers.
However, Cathy Burns, who teaches early childhood education at Vanier College, says screens only distract babies from their real needs as they're too young to understand what they are seeing.
"There's a really big difference between having your baby close by... and getting involved with concrete things, to something that's going to be really passive," says Burns.
Burns says that starting children using electronic devices too early can affect the emotional growth of a child because they do not encourage social interactions.
"What you're doing is training children at such a young, vulnerable age to get hooked on screens," says Burns.
"With another human being, cognitively, they need to hold on to real objects and a screen that will not do that.”
Burns says that children also need responsive parents, and that the distractions from electronic devices might encourage adults to pay less attention to their child's needs.
“This might be very tempting. It's new and it looks snazzy, but you know, there's a time for this and this is not the time for screens and technology. They need a responsive adult. They need to interact with real things, real objects and real people,” says Burns.
As a parent, Elena Olekhnovitch says she understands why Fisher Price made the seat that makes it easier for parents and children to access new technology, but for her daughter, she would prefer activities that are more physical.
"I would like my baby girl to spend the least possible time watching TV or on electronic devices because I think she will learn more if she just interacts and plays," says Olekhnovitch.
The Canadian Pediatric Society says too much screen time has a negative impact on a child's physical and mental development.
In fact, they recommend children under two years old not be exposed to screens at all.
In a statement, Fisher Price says it offers a variety of seats that do not include room for an iPad and that it's up to parents to judge what is beneficial to their children.
The Boston-based non-profit group Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has called for the seat to be withdrawn from the market.