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Fisher-Price "drool-proof" iPad seat and CTA iPad potty stand draw sharp criticism from some

It may sound like an April Fool's joke or a fake news story from The Onion, but with children using tablets at younger ages, toymaker CTA Digital has offered up a unique and controversial new accessory for Apple, Inc. (AAPL) fans -- a toddler toilet that allows the youngster to use their iPad while potty-training.

I. iPotty -- Abusive?

The product is real and is dubbed the "The Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat".  It's made in China, stands a foot high, weighs 2.6 lb, and features garish orange and green plastic accents.  It doubles as an "activity seat" (although that might be a ticket to stinky city).  It can fit all but the first generation iPad into its holding bracket.  It has a MSRP of $39.99 USD, but retails for as little as $31.99 USD on Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN). And it's drawing both attention and controversy.

First shown off at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), this "iPotty" didn't receive much attention until the holiday season.  But in an example of why there's no such thing as bad publicity, it's now a hot topic, thanks to it scoring the advocacy group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood's (CCFC) "TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) Award for the Worst Toy of the Year."
CTA iPotty

The director of the parent advocacy group CCFC, Dr. Susan Linn, attacks the accessory, stating:

Throughout history, kids have mastered toilet training without touch screens.  The iPotty is a perfect example of marketers trying to create a need where none exists. In fact, the last thing children need is a screen for every single occasion.
CTA iPotty
She adds, "Once again, the TOADY voting reflects the growing resistance to the toy industry’s cynical and self-interested promotion of screen-based products for infants and toddlers."
 
II. Fisher-Price Offers up a "Drool-Proof" iPad Seat
 
CTA isn't alone, though, in peddling product for the world's most popular tablet.  Other companies are pushing iPad-toting tot product of their own.
 
Mattel, Inc. (MAT) is offering a Fisher-Price branded "Fisher-Price iPad Apptivity Seat, Newborn-to-Toddler".  That seat drops the toilet "app", serving as more a high-tech toddler chair.  It's much more expensive, at an MSRP of $79.99 (Amazon price: $75 USD) and weighs more (12.5 lb) than the CTA "iPotty", but it does offer some safety features like a 3-point restraint.  It also "locks your iPad device securely inside case to protect from dribbles and drool" and is adjustable as the child matures.
Fischer Price iPad Seat 2/2
Fisher-Price's website states that the company's philosophy is:

We believe in the potential of children and in the importance of a supportive environment in which they can grow, learn, and get the best possible start in life.

But the director of the parent advocacy group CCFC, Dr. Susan Linn, questions that commitment.  No fan of the iPad seat, she tells The Washington Post:

[The Apptivity Seat is the] ultimate electronic babysitter, whose very existence suggests that it’s fine to leave babies as young as newborns all alone and with an iPad inches from their face.  Fischer-Price should stay true to its mission to foster learning and development by creating products for infants that promote, rather than undermine, interaction with caregivers.

University of New Mexico School of Medicine professor Victor Strasburger, MD, admonishes both products, declaring, "Does anyone out there think that kids need more screen time?  There is no need to hurry to expose kids to new technology, certainly not babies — or newborns!"

Fischer Price iPad Seat

Fisher-Price has yet to comment on the controversy, but CTA's marketing associate Lois Eiler told The Washington Post:

Most families have technology in the home, and the reality is that kids are exposed already, and parents are trying to find the best ways to adapt into their lives the technology in a way that is safe and thoughtful.

Not all parents are convinced.  The CTA seat has an average rating of 3/5 stars on Amazon, owing to a number of low reviews.  The Fisher-Price iPad seat is faring even worse, at 2/5 stars.

CTA and Fischer Price iPad products

One angry parent writes in an Amazon review of the Fisher-Price seat:

If you want to damage your child’s development, buy this chair. Children of a very young age are genetically programmed to respond positively to interacting with PEOPLE. Even if they are just watching the world go by. This is a horrible gadget.

But the products appear to be selling; the Fisher-Price seat is ranked 15th in its category on Amazon, while the CTA "iPotty" is ranked 26th in children's training toilet products.  One potential defense of these products: neglect concerns aside, the iPad is seeing growing adoption in the public school system.  So these companies could spin it that their products are simply preparing the child for their future education.

Sources: CTA The Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat on Amazon, Fisher-Price Ipad Apptivity Seat, Newborn-to-Toddler on Amazon, CCFC, The Washington Post



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Let's the parents do the parenting
By frozenassets on 12/10/2013 10:25:52 PM , Rating: 3
My 4 year old loves her iPad. Technology isn't evil, it's all about how it's used. She has her educational programs and mixes it with a little Netflix. Last week she came to me making hand signals while saying words, I looked it up, it's sign language that she's learning on her own from a show on Netflix.

She's having a tough time with potty training (kid won't sit still and has constipation issues)so we sit her on her potty in front of the TV so she can take her time and not feel like she's in the spotlight.

I own neither of these gadgets but who am I to condemn someone who does? I'm sure they each have their uses.




RE: Let's the parents do the parenting
By Reclaimer77 on 12/11/2013 12:15:13 AM , Rating: 2
Like I keep saying, this is just more rampant technophobia. How in the hell could this be harmful? Wtf!


RE: Let's the parents do the parenting
By troysavary on 12/12/2013 1:34:07 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, how dare we suggest that parents actually interact with their kids? iPads make great babysitters.


By Reclaimer77 on 12/12/2013 1:08:31 PM , Rating: 2
How is the iPad conceptually different from other toys that have been strapped onto these kind of things for years? Is a touchscreen somehow detrimental to an infant, but an analog toy not?

I see no logic in your kneejerk technophobia. You are NOT a bad parent because you choose an electronic device over something else. Get real.

Interaction? Audio/video stimulation and world-interaction though touch is crucial for a developing human brain. You have no clue wtf you're talking about.


By purerice on 12/12/2013 6:38:31 PM , Rating: 2
Some friends who have a toddler used to relax her with youtube videos on a smartphone. At first it was great. After a year or so it became like a drug. She would act up in order to get youtube. Upon realizing that they ended the practice. Her behavior is so much improved now it is scary.

To call their experience or people who have had similar experiences technophobic would be naive. Access to technology is not itself harmful. What is harmful is when parents replace themselves and interaction and relationship with technology.


RE: Let's the parents do the parenting
By Flunk on 12/11/2013 12:18:32 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, we should start handing infants iPhones right out of the womb.


RE: Let's the parents do the parenting
By ipay on 12/11/2013 9:37:13 AM , Rating: 3
Why so late? A little lube and a speculum... no problem.


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