App for That

Those Apps For Your Toddler Probably Aren’t Making Them Any Smarter

So weird.
This is terrifying, regardless. (Photo: iTunes)

This is terrifying, regardless. (Photo: iTunes)

Yuppie parents thought they had it all when the iPad came out. Fill it with some Real Simple-approved apps, plop it down in front of the bored toddler, and presto, all those brain-building programs would transform their kids into the next Jack Dorsey. One problem, though: Those apps are likely not making their children any smarter.

Today, an advocacy group named Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission that states that baby app developers are duping parents into believing that kids are going to become geniuses after playing Pocket Frogs.

The group is targeting Fisher Price’s “Laugh and Learn” and Open Solutions’ “Baby Hear and Read,” both of which tout a promise to “teach” their kids a variety of skills. But the group basically claims baby aren’t going to be absorb any of that. Since they’re babies.

Susan Linn, the group’s director, said the apps violate truth-in-advertising laws. She told the Associated Press that parents shouldn’t rely on apps to do the teaching and suggests that some actual parenting would be nice:

“Everything we know about brain research and child development points away from using screens to educate babies,” she said. “The research shows that machines and screen media are a really ineffective way of teaching a baby language. What babies need for healthy brain development is active play, hands-on creative play and face-to-face” interaction.

To which a group of Park Slope parents looked up from their iPhones, scoffed, and told baby Elijah to ignore the strange woman and keep tapping away.

Follow Jordan Valinsky on Twitter or via RSS. jvalinsky@observer.com