According to a recent NY Times story, major toy companies are developing interactive digital media for babies and toddlers. Dr. S refers to these toys as crib robots, and is alarmed about their potential damage to the children they are targeting. He discussed them at length recently, and is urging parents to keep them at bay.
Unfortunately, some parents are already embracing them, and the fear is that all parents will soon be urged to put embodied or disembodied (tablets, etc.) crib robots into babies’ hands. Merchandisers will spin them as expert-approved, convenient, fun and effortless ways to reduce the uncertainty and mystery of dealing with infants, and instead engage, calm, educate, babysit and jumpstart their development.
Already, smart toys are being marketed that simulate a mother’s presence with a recording of her voice to soothe Baby. Very young children’s play will soon become a marketplace for sophisticated, interactive media devices and intelligent toys, and Dr. S asserts that parents must carefully consider how these may impact children.
Dr. S suggests beginning in early life to make the correct use of technology part of family life. This is an essential step to take to ensure children will use it correctly when they become teens. They should be taught to treat devices as just appliances. Parents can harvest the best interactive digital resources and present them to kids as their personalized balanced Media Plan containing age-appropriate Growth Opportunities for Family Relationships, Values Education, Education Enrichment, Socialization and Entertainment, and then plan media consumption as you would meals and hygiene routines.
Parents should make the decision that no interactive digital device, whether embodied or disembodied, belongs in the home where you are raising budding humans unless it enhances family life and child development. Carve out tech-free times and places — keep the robots out of reach and turned off regularly in your home, to strengthen familial bonds and ensure healthy relationships.
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