Vinci Tablet: Cool Idea, Terribly Irresponsible Marketing

Yesterday I came across the website for Vinci Tablet computers for children.  Initially I was excited to hear about an iPad-like device that comes equipped with a near-indestructable screen, is pre-loaded with games, and is designed with small hands in mind.  Sounds pretty cool.  After a bit of research on their website and after watching a few YouTube demos, I was somewhat appalled to discover that the company is marketing their product to babies ages zero to three.

It is well-documented that children under the age of two should not have screen time.  According to numerous studies, screen time (including both television and computer games) can have negative effects on the social, emotional, and language development of young children.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies and toddlers under two receive no screen time whatsoever.  So, why is the Vinci Tablet company marketing a touch-screen computer to parents of infants?

For the preschool set and up, I think the Vinci Tablet has some very interesting possibilities (particularly in library and educational settings.) I take strong issue, however, with this product being pushed to babies.

Perhaps the most ridiculous rationale comes in the video below around the 2:05 mark.

The interviewer asks the sales rep, “What is the purpose of the Vinci Tablet?”  The sales rep responds that it is “To teach babies curiosity, first and foremost.” Whew.  Thank goodness someone is addressing the problem of aloof and indifferent one-year-olds.  Seriously?  A touch screen computer to “teach” babies to be curious about the world around them? Babies and toddlers are nothing if not little bundles of pure curiosity.  In fact, natural curiosity is the very essence of childhood!  And it is that natural curiosity that allows baby brains to develop, absorb language, decipher facial cues, learn to recognize familiar voices, and integrate into the social fabric of their environment.

While the Vinci Tablet is a very cool idea for slightly older children, the claim that it will help toddlers “develop skills and build confidence” flies in the face of all known research on the subject and amounts to incredibly irresponsible marketing.

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4 thoughts on “Vinci Tablet: Cool Idea, Terribly Irresponsible Marketing

  1. Hi, I came across your comment on VINCI accidentally and I can agree with you that our initial idea was not good. In fact the idea came from me (my baby) as she was mastering touchscreen since 15 months old. But I understand now that not all the babies are the same. Thus if you can give us a few more minutes, we are already adjusting our positioning to target “toddlers and beyond”.
    The rep at the show may not ave expressed fully VINCI philisophy. The key is we want to use technology as a tool to engage children in a playful learning process. I’m against “pushing down” way of teaching and I’d love to hear your idea about how we can utilize the technology to help children keep their curiosity and learn through exploration.
    Our next game is Baby Haha’s World where our character Baby Haha will go on safari in Africa, vacationing in Europe, adventure in China, and visiting Grandma while learning different cultures, habitats, foods and people during the process. It is indeed for 2 to 5 years old.
    Feel free to contact me directly and thanks for your comments. I’m a believer that it takes the whole community to build future leaders.
    Dan

    • Hi Dan,

      Thank you for taking the time to consider my concerns and reply so thoughtfully. As I mention in my post, I love the idea of a touch screen computer for young children. I like that the Vinci has preloaded games and that it is not connected to the internet. Well-designed, developmentally appropriate, intuitive, and fun games for preschoolers are so needed! For the 2 to 5 age range, it sounds pretty darn awesome.

      I was awfully concerned with it being marketed to parents of children under two and I’m so glad to hear that you are reworking your marketing plan to target the 2 and up demographic. I am happy to offer some ideas on age/developmentally appropriate games and concepts. In fact, if you are ever looking for a place to run a pilot program or do some hands-on testing, my library is chock full of preschoolers who’d be thrilled to give the Vinci a test drive!

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