Today CCFC sent the following letter to Apple's CEO demanding that the company end its licensing agreement with Fisher-Price for the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® Device.
January 14, 2014
Tim Cook, CEO
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014
Dear Mr. Cook,
We are writing to urge Apple to end its licensing agreement for Fisher-Price’s Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® Device. The Apptivity Seat is a bouncy seat for an infant—with a place for an iPad directly above the baby’s face, blocking his or her view of the rest of the world. Its design encourages parents to strap down babies as young as newborns just inches from an iPad. We understand that Apple believes it is not responsible for the content of apps and videos made for its devices. Clearly Apple is responsible, however, when it grants a license to a product whose design promotes irresponsible use of iPads and is potentially harmful to infants and toddlers.
The Apptivity Seat is a greater threat to babies’ healthy development than any other screen device. Because the iPad screen is unavoidable, infants are literally a captive audience. In addition, screens can be mesmerizing and since babies are strapped down and “safely" restrained, it encourages parents to leave infants alone with the iPad for extended periods of time*. While screen media for babies is controversial, no experts endorse leaving babies as young as newborns alone with an iPad and many believe that it is harmful—depriving infants of activities and interactions proven to be crucial to learning and healthy development.
The Apptivity Seat has clearly damaged Fisher-Price’s brand. CCFC’s petition urging Fisher-Price to recall the Apptivity Seat has nearly 13,000 signatories—more than any petition we’ve hosted in our 13-year history. The Apptivity Seat has also been the focus of dozens of scathing articles and opinion pieces. In response, Fisher-Price has taken the unusual step of distancing itself from its own product by placing a disclaimer about it on its website.
Fisher-Price does not bear all of the responsibility for the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® Device. By licensing the iPad to Fisher-Price, Apple is equally responsible.
We have enclosed a copy of the petition which we sent to Fisher-Price, along with excerpts of selected comments that parents and professionals wrote on the petition. We hope you will take their concerns seriously and end your licensing agreement with Fisher-Price for the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® Device. We also ask that you pledge not to license the iPad or iPhone or any other Apple screen device to a product that literally makes babies a captive audience. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further.
Susan Linn, EdD, Director, CCFC
Josh Golin, Associate Director, CCFC
SELECTED COMMENTS FROM CCFC’S PETITION FROM PEDIATRICIANS, OTHER HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, PARENTS AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS
“As a pediatric speech and language pathologist who works with children on developing language and social engagement, this is an absolute nightmare. Infants need interaction with live people to learn! Their experiences with people in the first few months of their life set the foundation for the rest of their lives.” Claire Lake, Portland, OR
“As a pediatrician and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Early Brain and Child Development Leadership Group, I urge you to discontinue this product. It is worse than a bad idea—it is HARMFUL to development.” Dipesh Navsaria, Madison, WI
“As both a parent and a pediatrician, I strongly support his petition. No infant or child under the age of 2 years should have screen time. It detracts from what children this age really need—caring interactions with those around them. This is clearly a product designed strictly for making the company money and without regard for the developmental needs of young children.” Kimberly Randell, Missouri
“As a Pediatric Physical Therapist and Early Interventionist, I'm appalled at this product line. Infants need social interaction not screens and many need to spend a lot less time strapped in seats and more on the floor moving and exploring.” Susan Larsen
“Please discontinue production and sales of the ‘Apptivity Seat’ immediately. As a pediatrician and AAP member, I feel this device is against everything we stand for re: the importance of one to one eye and touch contact between parents and babies. STOP and SOON.” Robert Mendelson, Portland, OR
“I am an early childhood educator, currently teaching parent education for parents in a birth to age 3 program. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for babies at all. I am shocked that this product will be marketed to parents. Babies need to be stimulated by human interaction that engages their five senses. This product forces an infant to look at a screen and blocks their view of the real world around them. I strongly urge Fisher-Price to remove this product from the market. Until then, I will use this product as an example of the harmful effects of screen time on infants in my classes.” Catherine Broz. Seaside, California
“As an early childhood educator and parent, I cannot even begin to express my disgust and dismay with this product. It flies in the face of any and all research into best practice for maximizing infant development.” Betsy Hoople of Simsbury, Connecticut
“My concern is that this seems a very disturbing and cynical attempt to brainwash / brand identify your product(s) into the most vulnerable and impressionable brain possible. We all need young people growing up understanding the world—not just how Fisher-Price or Apple or any other product pandering for future customers wants them to see life. This is a Franken-monster idea! Please reconsider and pull this from your product line. As a new Grandparent this will not encourage an otherwise happy customer of your past products to support you in future. Please help me get back to loving your brand & products. Thank you!” Margaret Maximenko Laurier, WA
“Staring at computer screens has been proven to be harmful to adults, and now people are trying to handicap our children? This is one of the worst things for an infant's development. Apple and Fisher-Price need to stop thinking about the financial gain they could have and focus on the health and well being of our future generations. Take this off the shelves.” Christal Potter, Sacramento, CA
* Fisher-Price claims that the seat has a timeout feature “which only allows for 10 minutes of activity with our app before requiring a manual reset.” But Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood timed three apps marketed with the Apptivity Seat and found that one, Laugh & Learn Shapes & Color Music show for Baby, ran indefinitely while two others, Development with Contrast Colors for Baby and Soothing Sights & Songs for Baby, timed out at 12.5 minutes and 13.5 minutes respectively. In any case, any app or video available for iPads can be used.