Fisher-Price, Open Solutions under fire for educational claims regarding baby apps - KMOV.com

Fisher-Price, Open Solutions under fire for educational claims regarding baby apps

(CBS News) Developers are creating mobile apps for kids and even babies. But now, a children's advocacy group is accusing two companies of misleading parents about the educational benefits.

An app from Fisher-Price is meant for babies as young as 6 months old, and claims to teach numbers and counting. But complaints filed last week with the Federal Trade Commission against app makers Fisher-Price and Open Solutions say there's no evidence their products have any educational value. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said, "The marketing that these companies do is just rife with false and deceptive claims that baby apps are a good way to teach babies."

The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood filed the complaint. It's the same group that in 2006 forced Disney to walk back declarations about the educational benefits of its Baby Einstein video. Linn said, "These companies are exploiting, really, parents' best intent."

Linn points to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends against electronic screen time for children under the age of 2. Linn said, "What research shows is that the more time babies spend with screen media, the less time they spend engaged in activities that are known to be educational, proven to be educational for them."

In a statement to CBS News, Fisher-Price said, "Our toy development process begins with extensive research ... to create appropriate toys for the ways children play, discover and grow."

The company says it has "appropriately extended these well researched play patterns into the digital space."

A spokesman for Open Solutions said its apps can help parents with babies, but agreed that screens should not replace human interaction.

The Toy Industry Association also called the complaints "unsupported."

Ultimately, it will be up to the FTC, which looks at all complaints it receives, to examine the claims that app makers are misleading parents. The agency would not say if there will be a formal investigation.

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