Like Matt Peckham and many commenters, I’m appalled—simply appalled—at the audacity of Fisher-Price. Those soulless bastards have taken their multi-decade commercial conquest of American childhood to new heights with the design and sale of the Apptivity™ seat for babies and toddlers to play with an iPad.
I have a busy work schedule, with tweets demanding my attention on my laptop screen and six windows open on a widescreen monitor, but I’m setting that all aside to sound the alarm: screens are bad for children! Don’t take my word for it—listen to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Their website informs us that when children are in such an early stage of development, it’s better for them to interact with people than with screens. I’ll bet those doctors would like to tell us all in person, but unfortunately they’re forced to rely on the Internet as a crutch for instantly connecting with millions of people around the world.
Whether you’re reading this post on your work computer, on your home computer, on your iPad, on your phone, on your Kindle, or in your Google Glass, find a way to copy this post’s URL and share it on Facebook and Twitter and maybe even Pinterest so that we can get the message to everyone who’s reading the Internet on any one of their screens: screens are bad. For babies, that is.
Only adults should be allowed to interact with screens—unless, of course, you’re an adult who’s in charge of a baby right now. In that case, stop reading! Put your face in your baby’s face! Your baby needs face time, not FaceTime! Those texts and snaps can wait until your baby is two years old, or until you can find another IRL face for your baby to learn from while you check your messages. A dog face or a cat face will do in a pinch, but it’s probably not ideal; still, even a fish face is better than one of those goddamn screens!
I know, this might seem a little hypocritical of me, screen-user that I am. Here’s the thing though: we have to fight screens with screens. I need to use my screen and your screen to tell you how harmful screens are to your precious developing infant. This is true whether you’re rich or poor. If you’re rich enough to afford a fancy Fisher-Price seat, you’re rich enough to hire someone to do your housework so that you can spend that time face-to-face with your baby. If you’re poor, then you probably can’t afford an iPad anyway, let alone a special baby seat for it, so your baby’s all set. Unless, that is, you have a TV. That’s even worse. Your baby is already growing up in cognitively challenging circumstances; don’t make them more challenging by sticking its face in a screen. Stick your face in your baby’s face. Those two full-time minimum wage jobs you’re working can wait.
This is your baby we’re talking about. That kid has only one infancy, and you’ll seriously regret it if you allow your baby to spend it the way it’s going to spend the rest of its life and you’re spending your whole life and I’m spending my whole life and everyone else is spending their whole lives: frequently looking at screens for entertainment, education, and communication. You wouldn’t give your kid a shot of whiskey, so why the hell would you let your baby use an iPad?
I don’t envy today’s parents, since screens are ubiquitous. There are screens in cars, simply because no one wants to memorize complicated directions any more. There are screens in our pockets, due to the inconvenient truth that they allow us to stay in touch with loved ones. There are screens on our couches, just because they allow us to instantly read any book in the world. There are screens on our stereos, because apparently Beyoncé doesn’t have the patience for eight-tracks. There are screens on our walls, because we just have to be able to watch crap like Citizen Kane, Breaking Bad, CNN, and other guilty pleasures.
Every one of those screens is negatively impinging on your baby’s mental development. Why would you dangle another right in front of the kid’s face? We live in a world of screens, but that’s something your baby should never know.