Experts Agree: Marketing claims that apps can teach numbers and letters to babies are deceptive

by: 

Susan Linn

Last summer, CCFC filed a Federal Trade Commission Complaint against Fisher Price for the false and deceptive marketing of its Laugh and Learn apps for babies as young as six months. Among other claims, the apps are advertised as teaching babies “letters A-Z “ and “counting 1-10.” Today, we submitted an important letter to the FTC summarizing the evidence-based opinions of 6 independent, world-renowned experts on infant learning and development who agree that such claims are deceptive. They unequivocally conclude that babies are not capable of learning numbers and letters.  In fact, their conclusions have even broader implications, as they call into question the deceptive nature of marketing any product as teaching babies these concepts.  

Our letter underscores how important it is for the FTC to hold Fisher-Price’s accountable for its deceptive marketing of Laugh and Learn apps.  Deceiving parents with false marketing claims about the educational value of these products is harmful   In addition to persuading parents to waste money on useless products, such marketing sends a troubling and potentially harmful message to parents about infant learning.  Spending time trying to teach babies numbers and letters takes away from activities essential to babies’ learning—hands on creative play, active play, and active engagement with the adults who love them.  In the words of Dr. Roberta Golinkoff, “To the extent that apps for young children reduce the amount of interaction they spend with caring and supportive adults, these electronic inputs may actually have a negative impact on children’s learning.”

Click here to read today's letter to the FTC can be read at

Click here to read the full comments of Dr. Laura Berk, Dr. Herbert Ginsburg, Dr. Roberta Golinkoff, Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Dr. Judith Schickedanz and Dr. Joshua Sparrow.

Click here to read more about our letter in the Washington Post.

 

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