Tech Review: Apptivity, the iPad Babysitter

December 17, 2013
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Babies are so needy, right? Thank Jah for Chuck E. Cheez, college theater major babysitters who can try out their routines on a wee audience bereft of an agenda, your maiden aunt and other instances where you’re too cheap to pay for an experienced caregiver. Well, no more worries! iPads, which can keep them occupied both on lengthy road trips and at home, are here thanks to Fisher-Price’s Apptivity Seat.

A comfy chair for newborns and toddlers with a built-in iPad mount which makes absolutely certain your progeny is never more than a few inches away from the hypnotic glow of Dora the Explorer. ¿Comprendé?

At the same time, not surprisingly at all, Rupert Murdoch’s worldwide protective media police are instantaneously on the job to protect us callow, needy self-absorbed parents from ourselves. Fox News in New York City insists, “There is controversy.” Indeed, selected customers reviewing the product on its website suggest it should be banned and is “actually detrimental to children’s growth and development.” Go to the site, however, and, rather than the shrill hysteria Fox broadcasting everywhere utilizes, and you’ll find only two out of 40-something reviews were negative and everything relative to the subject was removed within 36 hours. I’m not usually one for supporting corporate powerhouses like Fisher-Price and Apple, but I do call ’em like I see ’em. This is a great product for parents and I recommend it with only a few reservations.

iPad babysitter

First, let’s nip Fox News’ cheap psychology in the bud. Fox solemnly claim to have spoken to a well-known child psychologist, who feared parents might be tempted to “use the seat and iPad as a babysitter.”  This a duff argument that’s been going on since before JFK got shot and my Great-Grandma yelled at my Grandma about avoiding her mothering duties while otherwise engaged in the kitchen. Television is the best temporary babysitter ever!

Fisher-Price’s P.R. statement was this: “We created the Seat iPad feature for those times when parents want to use this visual display option as another way to stimulate and engage their baby,” according to Kathleen Alfano of Fisher-Price’s PR section. “If parents don’t want to use the iPad, they can remove the device and a mirror will be overhead, or they can remove the bar completely. The choice is theirs.”

Anyway, check it out for yourself. If you own an iPad (US$307.48), you know how great it is already. Well, how about an iPad for your infant? Consider what you pay out for babysitting per annum and start from there.

This Apptivity seat (US$75.00) is a child’s seat for newborns – up to toddlers – with an iPad mount. Now knowing that the APA (American Pediatric Association) recommends no screen time at all for babies under two-years-of-age seems like wishful thinking for yours truly, not to mention the two kids I’ve helped put through Georgetown and Princeton Universities who were exposed to selected television programming in small doses since they were born. In other words, you, dear consumer, as an opinionated adult should educate yourself and make a decision of your own about exposure.

So much entertainment and technology in a cool grow-with-me seat for baby! It is expensive, so you can lock your iPad® device inside a special case (US$19.99) to protect if from dribbles, scratches and drool. Play and learning are at baby’s fingertips with free apps you can easily download. The whole process is surprisingly empathetic in a laid-back way.  Apps with black-and-white images sharpen visual skills, scenes of nature and slowly unfolding kaleidoscopic scenery soothe and early learning apps introduce baby to letters, numbers and more, through sing-along songs and sounds. As they approach toddlerdom more and more learning apps dominate.

Beyond the fun and excitement of apps, it’s still a deep comfy seat with soft head support, including a removable, machine-washable seat pad and head support. It has overhead toys, motion, adjustable 3-position seat recline, high-contrast patterns that help develop eye-tracking skills, a rotating toy bar and a mirror reflecting baby’s image are on the spot for when your iPad device is removed. Easy adjustments let you extend usage from newborn to toddler.

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