For Immediate Release
BabyFirst AT&T U-verse App Wins Dreaded TOADY Award for Worst Toy of the Year
First-ever “second screen” experience for babies encourages iPad use while watching TV
BOSTON - Appalled at the latest escalation in screen-time for babies, members of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood selected the AT&T U-verse app by BabyFirst as winner of this year’s TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) Award for the Worst Toy of the Year.
The U-verse app encourages babies to multitask by using an iPad while watching TV. “The BabyFirst U-verse app definitely deserves a TOADY,” said CCFC’s Executive Director, Dr. Susan Linn. “While there’s no evidence that even one screen benefits babies, training them to split their attention between two screens is absurd—and potentially harmful.”
Crystal Brunnelli of Raymond, NH explained why she voted for the U-Verse app. “It’s insidious. It seems creative and interactive, but it's not the kind of creativity and interactivity that developing babies need, and may actually harm their development.” For Laura LeClair of Sunderland, MA, BabyFirst’s targeting of newborns earned her TOADY vote, "I've got to go with the 'toy' that's marketed to children ages 0-5. Really? Zero? Newborns should use this 2-screen abomination?"
Other nominees had passionate “fans.” Voters were particularly appalled by the Girl Scouts of the USA’s decision to accept $2 million from Mattel. Wrote Brandy King of Wilmington, MA, “I really was so disappointed that an organization that taught me about leadership, friendship and service is now teaching commercialism." Added Elizabeth Versten of Chicago, IL, "This horrifying toy is letting girls down in two ways: promoting body image problems, and showing that their beloved Girl Scouts could be sold to the highest bidder!"
Robin E. Brooks of Topsham, ME voted for the Mini Mall because “masquerading as a doll house of sorts, this toy turns imaginative play on its head, from a place of imagination and invention to one of consumerism and brand identification.” Annie Silk of Ann Arbor, MI picked the LeapBand because, “Anyone who thinks a preschooler needs a screen to tell him to run around has clearly never met a preschooler before!" And Victoria Byres of West New York, NJ cast a strong vote for the Cartoon Network Anything app: “As a teacher I believe there is nothing more important than developing focus and concentration in children. This app makes me weep!”
The TOADY Awards were created in response to the Toy Industry Association of America’s annual TOTY (Toy Of The Year) Awards. 2014 marks the fourth consecutive year that voters chose a screen-based toy for infants and toddlers as the TOADY winner. Last year, the TOADY went to the iPotty. In 2012, Fisher-Price’s Apptivity Monkey—a stuffed animal with an iPhone in its belly—took home the prize and the Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet won in 2011. Added Dr. Linn, “Once again, TOADY voters are telling the makers of screen media for babies that ‘enough is enough.’ Parents, educators, health professionals, and people who care about infants and toddlers know it’s way past time to stop the industry’s incessant push to hook kids on screens at ever younger ages.”
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).