A tablet for toddlers? Unfortunately.

February 19, 2012

Just like other parents, I want my child to have every advantage. I’ll pay for organics to help him grow strong; I’ll drive him to piano lessons to develop his brain; and I’ll make sure Scotch tape, construction paper, markers and paints are always handy to foster his creativity.

But, no matter how much the toddler tablet companies try to tell me that little kids need computers to be competitive, I will not believe those companies have the best interest of children at heart.

From the moment they’re born, babies are meant to explore their environments. Every touch, every smell, every sound is an adventure and you can practically watch their bright, little brains sorting and filing each new sensation – preparing to master the world. Tactile exploration is clearly the vital developmental need of the baby and toddler. So why in the world would anyone ever invent VINCI?

Winner of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s worst toy of 2011, the VINCI Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet website says, “Created by a mom and designed exclusively for toddlers and preschoolers, VINCI Early Learning Systems use the most advanced technology … to engage toddlers and preschoolers in an interactive learning that follows the three levels of VINCI Curriculum.”

Advanced technology and curriculum for an 18-month-old? Really?

Here’s what the CCFC had to say about why the VINCI took the top TOADY (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young children) award: “The Vinci tablet looks so harmless, but it will suck hours of time that babies need to spend interacting with the world when their brains are the most vulnerable and in need of real interaction… What children need are toys that encourage them to use their imagination, instead of toys that do and say everything for them… Using bogus “educational claims,” this company preys on vulnerable parents of infants (many first-timers) who just want to do the best for their child. A caregiver can provide everything this “learning tool” offers — games, songs, lullabies, stories — for far less than the almost $500 price tag.”

Interestingly, when researching VINCI, I noted that early on the tablet was touted as a tablet for babies and toddlers, but within a few months the company shifted its message to say “toddlers and preschoolers.” Was that due to all the negative press they garnered about putting babies in front of computers? Probably. Sadly, I fear the VINCI company is strategically waiting for society to acclimatize to toddlers carrying around tablets. Then it will re-introduce the VINCI for babies, once we’ve drunk the technological Kool-Aid.

What do you think? Do “educational” tablets have a healthy place in the hands of small children? Comment here, as I’d love for someone to convince me I’m wrong. (My screen-limited son would really appreciate that, too!)

One Response to “A tablet for toddlers? Unfortunately.”

  1. Dana Sullivan Kilroy Says:

    To let kids plug in or not? And at what age? It’s such a conundrum for parents these days! The AAP advises against letting kids watch ANY TV before they are 2 years old (I think that’s the current recommendation anyway) but it’s so tempting to let them watch Elmo or play with an iphone or ipad or this Vinci gizmo if it gives you a few minutes to make dinner or fold laundry or….do some school work? I guess like with everything else, it’s about finding a healthy balance. Interesting stuff.

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