From iPotty to Apptivity Seat. What next?

Julie Jacobson/AP - The iPotty. Enough said.

As if the iPotty weren’t bad enough.

My colleague Cecilia Kang recently reported that Fisher Price has launched a “Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat,” a bouncy seat with a place for an iPad. Isn’t the stimulation of a regular old bouncy seat — the lights, the music, the vibrations — sufficient? What could an iPad possibly offer a baby, other than bad things? When I first saw the iPotty in February, I was sufficiently amused to write about how unnecessary it was.

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I have seen the future of potty-training, and I’m torn between amusement and rolling my eyes.

The iPotty, a training seat with a place to attach an iPad, debuted at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and will sell for about $40. Now your toddler can watch videos or play games while he waits for nature to call.

There are so many things wrong with this that I don’t know where to start. Let’s leave alone the fact that I don’t want my iPad anywhere near a bathroom, for fear of damaging it. Even if it were fully waterproof, I still think the iPotty is silly at best.

Many children are already being electronically entertained on car trips short and long, while they’re waiting for dinner and when they could and should be outside running around and playing. The average child spends seven hours using electronic media each day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

So, really, they can’t spend a couple of minutes in the bathroom without a video or game to keep them company? Do we really want children to grow up thinking that they can and must be engaged and entertained at all times? Surely they can flip through a good old-fashioned board book while they’re putting in their time on the potty.

I am all for the judicious use of the iPad or other electronic devices when it comes to learning. I let my kids practice their math facts on ours. The iPad can be a tremendously helpful learning tool for many children, and a great motivator for some. I also want my children to be adept at technology so they’re comfortable with using it at school and, someday, in the workplace. But I draw the line at toilet training. Some things just shouldn’t require an electronic device.

Never mind that, really, does a toddler need to know how to use an iPad before she can use the toilet? Probably not. It’s just another example of parents looking for a way to outsource responsibility, when really they should be actively engaged with their children while teaching them what might be one of the most important skills they will acquire during early childhood.

So grab the sticker charts, the M&Ms, the snazzy big-kid underwear. Use every incentive you can think of to get your child on board with toilet training. But please, leave the iPad out of the equation.

 
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