Just in case there's any doubt out there that apps can teach babies anything, the answer is don't be silly. Of course apps can teach babies something: How to make lights go on on Mommy's iPhone. And that's about it. Advocacy group The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is nudging the FCC to investigate developers who claim their baby apps are educational. For the last time, mobile apps will not make your baby smarter. If anything, they may stunt your baby's mind.
This is the same advocacy group who got the FCC to pressure the Baby Einstein crew to stop claiming they could teach babies and toddlers to read. They say all the evidence is clear: There are no educational benefits to exposing babies and toddlers to screen time.
Commercial-Free Childhood's director Susan Linn says, "Everything we know about brain research and child development points away from using screens to educate babies. The research shows that machines and screen media are a really ineffective way of teaching a baby language. What babies need for healthy brain development is active play, hands-on creative play, and face-to-face" interaction. You know, all that time-consuming stuff parents have been providing since the dawn of man? Electronics are not going to give you a shortcut for teaching your baby how to think, and they're not going to put your toddler on the fast track to geniushood. And the companies who make these apps should stop claiming they're making anything but entertainment.
Plus the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against any screen time for babies under the age of 2, and no more than an hour or two for older kids.
But isn't this common sense? Are there really parents out there who believe the claims that mobile or tablet apps are educational, especially for babies? The very idea is ludicrous. I see that marketing as a kind of white lie everyone tells themselves to justify handing over the phone to your baby so you can hear yourself think for five minutes. We know better -- don't we?
Maybe not. Maybe there really are people out there who believe the marketing. And anyway, I think we've all decided that we don't like it when ads lie to us, even if we don't believe the lies. So if you didn't know before (and go ahead, just say you did), you do now: Apps will not make your baby smarter. The end.
Do you let your baby play with any apps?
Image via Tia/Flickr