Child Caring

Toys NOT to buy

Ever wonder what the worst toy is?

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has. This year's worst toy is the iPotty by CTA Digital. It received CCFG's TOADY award. As in: Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young Children.


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Each year at this time, CCFC picks from among toys that "promote precocious sexuality to children and push branded and screen-based entertainment at the expense of children’s play." The award is a not-so-disguised tongue-in-cheek slap at the Toy Industry Association, Inc.'s annual TOTY award, which is not at all tongue-in cheek. That award, dubbed by the Toy Industry Association as the "Oscar of toy awards," is a big deal. Just think: you're walking down the toy aisle of your favorite big box store and there's a toy whose packaging announces, "Toy of the Year"! Doesn't your child/grandchild/godchild/niece/nephew deserve it?! (Photo: CTA Digital)

Here's a reality check. The TOTY award* is based on sales potential, not necessarily on a child's developmental needs. Good marketing, though, huh?

But about the iPotty. What makes the iPotty such a bad toy?

Simply put: Kids do not need screens.

More to the point, research is now able to show that exposure to screens before the age of 2 can negatively affect the way the brain gets wired. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen exposure before the age of 2.

Then along comes this toy that tells potty-training age kids: Screens are so important, you can't even take your eyes away from them long enough to pee!

Sadly, that's not the worst of it. Less than 24 hours after announcing the TOADY award, there's a new press release in my inbox from CCFC warning about the Fisher-Price "Apptivity Seat." This toy is "so bad and potentially harmful for babies, including newborns, that it demands a more serious response than our tongue-in-cheek TOADYs," writes Susan Linn, CCFC director.

The Apptivity Seat has you strap your infant into a bouncy seat with an attached screen, positioned so that the baby can look at nothing else. As Linn writes, "Babies need laps, not apps."

Who cares about the APA warning of no screens for babies? Clearly not Fisher-Price.

Probably you do. Tell everyone who might be buying holiday gifts for your kids, and especially for your babies, that you don't want anything with screens.

And if they have no idea what to buy? Tell them about blocks.

*To be fair, the 2013 TOTY award went to a LEGO toy; can we really complain about that? Sorta, kinda. LEGO has gone down an iffy road with its Friends line which earned it a TOADY award because of gender stereotyping.