Congrats to Fisher-Price! The Laugh & Learn Apptivity Monkey has been named the worst toy of 2012 by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. The CCFC has given the stuffed toy — designed to be played with while it has an iPhone in its belly — a TOADY award: Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children.
In a press release, the CCFC explains:
"The TOADY voting reflects growing resistance to the toy industry's cynical attempts to foist screens of every conceivable size and shape onto infants," said CCFC's Director, Dr. Susan Linn. "Screen-free stuffed animals have been a source of comfort to young children and a springboard for creative play for generations. The Apptivity Monkey is a textbook example of more being considerably less."
The manufacturer recommends this toy for children as young as 6 months old, but members of the CCFC find that pretty sad:
"I voted for the Apptivity Monkey because it is in clear violation of pediatrician and professional recommendations to keep babies and toddlers under 2 away from any screens at all," said CCFC member Anna Martin. She added, "It's more like the Capptivity Monkey." Jennifer Long, owner of a child care center, noted, "It's bad enough that most toys for babies are battery operated and flashy/light-up, but now they are encouraging screen time as part of a toy. I'm sad for the sweet little babies that get an Apptivity Monkey this holiday and for the unknowing parents that buy it thinking it's good for their baby."
It's natural for a six-month-old to want to play with whatever mom and dad are holding — phone, keys, lipgloss — but a toy for a baby that has an iPhone WHERE HIS HEART SHOULD BE is grotesque (and kind of creepy). Oh, Fischer-Price claims kids can play with the toy without the phone, but once a kid sees it in there, if you take it out, won't it just seem broken?
The Apptivity Monkey had plenty of competition this year. Other toys nominated include the LEGO Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop ("Incredibly insulting that my daughter should be presented with Lego Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop as the norm for girls and my son with a kit to build the space shuttle"); the 7-11 Slurpee Maker by Spin Master ("Toys should inspire the imagination instead of creating a desire to drink sugar water"); and the Put Me In The Story App by Jabberwocky Kids ("Nurture imagination and empathy, not narcissism and selfishness! Anything that fosters self-absorption in a child is truly obscene"). Confession: I would have been sooo into that Slurpee maker as a kid. I might even want it now.