With great power comes great responsibility

February 11, 2014

I am not often moved enough by a petition to go online and register to cast a vote. Recently, however, I caught sight of a friend’s Facebook posting where an infant was strapped into an ApptivityTM Seat, its face just inches from the screen of an Apple iPad. I immediately went to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood site, registered and signed the petition against the Fisher-Price and Apple ApptivityTM Seat licensing agreement. I didn’t stop there, though! I also wrote a letter expressing my disappointment in my beloved brand’s decision to turn the next generation’s minds to mush.

Why did I take such a stance against Apple? And, why didn’t I target Fisher-Price? Well, unless you have a child in the family, the name Fisher-Price is not in your vocabulary. Apple, however, is introduced at youth (or infancy, I should say, thanks to the ApptivityTM Seat) and has the potential to remain with you for life. As a result, Apple has a decidedly larger audience and therefore a greater impact on society. Impact is a form of power, and as leaders in our technology, business and artistic communities, they should be responsible and mindful of how they wield it.

I signed that petition because I couldn’t understand why a brand that celebrates creativity and high standards of social responsibility (according to their mission statement, below) would be a part of a product that hinders the brain development of children*.  It goes beyond that, though. It’s reinforcing passivity in both children and parents. I can’t imagine Steve Jobs or any of the Apple designers would have gotten to where they were/are if they had been strapped in to one of these gadgets. I imagine their parents interacted with them, taught them problem solving skills and stuck a crayon in their hand (which went promptly into their mouth). I imagine that when they were seated in a bouncy seat, they were watching their parents do dishes or fold laundry, or better yet, laughing at their dog chasing its tail.

According to Apple’s website, "Apple is committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility in everything we do." They say that being socially responsible is a part of who they are – I realize that this is in regards to their Supplier Responsibility Report, but it’s such a broad statement I have to believe it applies to the whole brand – so wouldn’t the ApptivityTM Seat be a direct opposition of that commitment?

Realistically, I know that if Apple had not partnered with Fisher-Price it would have been someone else, because “progress” is inevitable. But I feel strongly that this could have been an opportunity for Apple to set an example, to be greater than a dollar amount. In the end, the decision is up to the parent/consumer whether they interact with their child or shove a screen in front of their face.

Do you think this was a missed opportunity for Apple?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that youngsters under age 2 not watch any television, that older children watch no more than two hours daily of “quality” programming, and that televisions be kept out of children’s bedrooms. - Associated Press 7/5/2005

blog comments powered by Disqus
Brandlogic and CoreBrand have become Tenet Partners — Where brand meets innovation®. More