Digital technology for our littlest ones is exploding. Developers want games that are easy enough for babies to understand. Technological sophistication has created another arena that parents feel they have to navigate in exactly the right way.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, founded in 2000 by Susan Linn, is a nonprofit advocacy group against the commercial exploitation of children. The CCFC has grown into a powerful voice that opposes commercialism aimed at little learners and the deceptive advertising of baby apps.
Natasha Singer in her New York Times article, “Children’s Advocacy Group Faults Learning Apps for Babies,” reports on the latest CCFC complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. The complaint says media and software companies’ infant apps do not teach little ones to talk or count as claimed.
“The baby genius industry is notorious for marketing products as educational, when in fact there is no evidence that they are,” says Susan Linn, the director of the CCFC. “Parents deserve honest information about the educational value of the activities they choose for their children and they are not getting it from these companies.”
Singer continues, “The CCFC’s complaints also contend that using such apps may be detrimental to very young children.” Infant and toddler tech programs take time away from creative, hands-on play and face-time with loving adults. Both play and face-time are essential for learning in the early years. Singer repeated the American Academy of Pediatric’s policy on media for children, which is none under age 2.
So what does this have to do with parents of babies and toddlers?
Be careful of big business. App developers market their colorful baby learning apps as educational. They make elaborate claims that tech screen apps teach babies numbers, counting, first words and spatial skills.
This is what we know:
- Parental interaction is critical for language development of very young children.
- Imaginative play is essential for a little one’s emotional, social, and academic success.
- Children learn best with hands-on learning and an involved parent.
- Play and the profound learning that goes with it are the best for our youngest minds.
Be mindful. Don’t let big business trump what we know is best for our youngest learners.