Stuffed Monkey with an iPhone Belly Wins Worst Toy of the Year; Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Monkey Takes Home the 2012 TOADY

Date of Release: 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh@commercialfreechildhood.org)

For Immediate Release

Stuffed Monkey with an iPhone Belly Wins Worst Toy of the Year;
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Monkey Takes Home the 2012 TOADY


BOSTON -- December 6 -- Appalled at Fisher-Price for squeezing screen time into snuggle time, members of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood selected the Fisher-Price™ Laugh & Learn™ Apptivity™ Monkey as winner of this year’s TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children) Award for the Worst Toy of the Year. It’s the first stuffed animal for infants with an iPhone in its tummy. In the closest TOADY vote ever the Apptivity Monkey earned 33% of an online vote, barely besting the LEGO Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop (30%). TheO ball (21%), Spin Master’s 7-11 Slurpee Maker, (10%), and the Put Me In The Story app (7%) were the other runners-up. The Apptivity Monkey succeeds the Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet as the reigning TOADY winner, the second consecutive year a screen-based toy for babies takes the award.

“The TOADY voting reflects growing resistance to the toy industry’s cynical attempts to foist screens of every conceivable size and shape onto infants,” said CCFC’s Director, Dr. Susan Linn. “Screen-free stuffed animals have been a source of comfort to young children and a springboard for creative play for generations. The Apptivity Monkey is a textbook example of more being considerably less.”

Fisher-Price markets the Apptivity Monkey as “the best of both worlds for baby—a soft, cuddly friend to hold and hug, plus fun interactive learning with your iPhone or iPod touch!” There is no evidence, however, that screen media is educational for children under 30 months. CCFC’s ongoing efforts to hold the “genius baby” industry accountable for its deceptive educational claims led Disney to offer a groundbreaking refund on Baby Einstein videos in 2009 and to a landmark judgment by the Federal Trade Commission against the makers of the video series Your Baby Can Read earlier this year. The push to convince parents that screen time is educational for babies—and the packaging of a screen device inside a stuffed animal—are what propelled the Apptivity Monkey to outpace its formidable competition.

“I voted for the Apptivity Monkey because it is in clear violation of pediatrician and professional recommendations to keep babies and toddlers under 2 away from any screens at all,” said CCFC member Anna Martin. She added, “It's more like the Capptivity Monkey.” Jennifer Long, owner of a child care center, noted, “It’s bad enough that most toys for babies are battery operated and flashy/light-up, but now they are encouraging screen time as part of a toy. I'm sad for the sweet little babies that get an Apptivity Monkey this holiday and for the unknowing parents that buy it thinking it's good for their baby.”

But other nominees had their “fans.” Voters were especially irked by LEGO’s marketing for the Butterfly Beauty Shop, which encourages girls to “get primped and pretty and have some serious salon fun” and “gossip out on the bench by the scenic fountain.” Kate Snyder said, “While I know there are lots of ‘bad toys’ to choose from that fall into that same category of gender marketing gone crazy, I was particularly disappointed to see LEGO going that route.” About the 7-11 Slurpee Machine, Casey Hinds said, “Toys should inspire the imagination instead of creating a desire to drink sugar water. I consider this the toy that keeps on giving...obesity, diabetes and bad health.” And Sarah Hellman succinctly explained her choice of the smartphone-enabled TheO ball: “Since when does a ball require instructions or technology?”

In the end, though, the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Monkey wins the distinct dishonor of being named Worst Toy of the Year. It joins the Vinci, Nickelodeon’s AddictingGames.com, and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Barbie in the TOADY hall of shame.

To learn more about this year’s nominees, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/TOADY2012. To learn why CCFC members voted the way they did, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/blog/2012-toady-award-how-you-voted.

Issue: 

Campaign: