20% of kids’ playtime is spent using electronic devices.
The use of tablets and other devices by developing children is a hotly-contested aspect of parenting. Many feel that tablets are the books of the future, while others feel as though tossing another screen in front of a child retards their social as well as their intellectual development. Regardless of which side you fall on, you probably won’t argue that time in front of screen does, one way or another comes at the expense of physical activity.
Fisher-Price is hoping to buck that trend with its newest toy for toddlers, the Think and Learn Smart Cycle. Unveiled this week at the CES convention, at its essence, the toy is an exercise bike that serves as a Bluetooth controller for tablets, smartphones, and TVs. It won’t keep your kid from looking at a screen, but it will keep them physically engaged while they’re doing it thanks to four (as of release) built-in “games” that the kids can play by pedaling and steering the toy bike. The games are educational in nature, focusing on STEM, literacy, and social studies.
While it’s certainly a creative approach to the problems posed by modern parenting, undoubtedly many will find it as a half-measure that may ultimately do more harm than good by getting kids to connote screens with exercise. Skeptics are already weighing in on the product’s unveiling:
Pokemon Go, #Virtual Reality, & now Think & Learn Smart Cycle. Isn't part of exercise being clear headed & unplugged? Thoughts #PhysEd ?— supportREALteachers (@supportREALteachers) 1483560065
Is this the saddest product launch at CES? https://t.co/4O8XuhfZO5— R/GA (@R/GA) 1483559683
Further, the toy is certainly getting people talking, but it’s only revolutionary (or even successful) if kids actually want to use it, and this certainly seems like one of those toys that gets a couple hours of enthusiastic use, then starts gathering cobwebs in the corner. Consequently, this might be more of a toy for concerned parents than it is for their kids.