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.