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Boston-based children's advocacy group files complaint against learning apps for babies

Posted by Kristi Palma  August 8, 2013 11:02 AM

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AP photo

This undated image from the Fisher-Price website shows Fisher-Price "Laugh & Learn" mobile apps.

The Boston-based group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a complaint Wednesday with the Federal Trade Commission against mobile apps that claim to help babies learn, reports the Associated Press. The complaint says companies Fisher-Price and Open Solutions falsely marketed popular apps for babies as educational.

The group, which filed a similar complaint against "Baby Einstein’" videos several years ago that resulted in nationwide consumer refunds, wants the following products examined:

-- Fisher-Price’s "Laugh & Learn" mobile apps
-- Open Solutions' games, such as ‘"Baby Hear and Read’" and "Baby First Puzzle."

Here is what Susan Linn, the group's director, has to say about the apps:

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.

childapp.jpg

Here is Fisher Price's response.

Grounded in 80 years of research and childhood development observations, we have appropriately extended these well-researched play patterns into the digital space.

(Image: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

And here is what Open Solutions said in a statement to the AP:

We also don’t say ‘get this game and let it teach your child everything.' We assume (the) child is playing the game with parent/sister/baby sitter. We think we have apps that can help parents with babies, either by entertaining babies or help them see new things, animals, hear their sounds, etc.

Do you think apps help babies learn?

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Kristi Palma, Boston.com Moms producer, is the mom of a first grader and a preschooler. She is a writer who enjoys cooking her grandmother's Italian recipes (when her son isn't launching paper airplanes into them). Follow her on Twitter @kristipalma.
Jennifer Clark Estes is a teacher, writer, blogger, and the mother of four young children. In her free time, she blogs at A Mom's World, plays with the kids (or chauffeurs them around), and is desperately seeking a quiet spot so she can read a book. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferCEstes.
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