What’s Kickin’ Blog

Kids @ Home

Just because you could, doesn’t mean you should

Every time I see stuff like this, I always remember the Jurassic Park quote from Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm:

…your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

—Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

Fisher-Price Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat for iPad

Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat + Case for iPad&#174

SOURCE: Fisher-Price

While the world continues to discover “there’s an app for everything” some are concerned with the over-integration of iPad-like technology (especially at such a young age). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends eliminating all screen time for kids under age two FYI. There’s even a petition asking David Allmark, Executive Vice President of Fisher-Price, to stop selling the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad&#174.

Fisher-Price – the most trusted name in quality toys – has been helping to make childhood special for generations of kids. Their philosophy even states: “We believe in the potential of children and in the importance of a supportive environment in which they can grow, learn, and get the best possible start in life.” I wonder how many of the Fisher-Price designers on this product recall the words of their company founders: “Fisher-Price toys should have intrinsic play value, ingenuity, strong construction, good value and action.” – Herman Fisher, Irving Price, Helen Schelle, 1930.

This Apptivity seat, which sells for $80, has an adjustable three-position seat designed to fit both infants and toddlers (up to 40 pounds). “There are so many awful screen products for babies these days, but the Fisher-Price Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® device is the worst yet. It’s a bouncy seat for an infant – with a place for an iPad directly above the baby’s face, blocking his or her view of the rest of the world. And because screens can be mesmerizing and babies are strapped down and “safely” restrained, it encourages parents to leave infants all alone with an iPad. To make matters even worse, Fisher-Price is marketing the Apptivity Seat – and claiming it’s educational – for newborns

2-In-1 iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad&#174


CTA 2-In-1 iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad

NOTE: The iPotty is an award-winning toy. Members of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) have selected the iPotty as winner of this year’s TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) Award for the Worst Toy of the Year.

“Throughout history, kids have mastered toilet training without touch screens,” said CCFC’s Director, Dr. Susan Linn. “The iPotty is a perfect example of marketers trying to create a need where none exists. In fact, the last thing children need is a screen for every single occasion.”


Of course, imagine what will happen when these kids — who grow up with iPad-like technology embedded in everything — show up to Kindergarten? And you thought attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) was rampant in children who watched too much television as toddlers?!

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How the Teen Brain (and Your Brain) Learns Best

While this video is about the teen brain and how it works, it has application to many stages of life. The lessons of this video actually apply to everyone. Created by What Kids Can Do (WKCD) a national nonprofit that strives to reach the broadest audience possible with two primary messages: (1) the power of what young people can accomplish when given both the opportunity and support they need and (2) what youth can contribute when we take their voices and ideas seriously.

If you were to add a ninth condition for learning, what would it be?

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Culture of Distraction Demands More Slow Tech?

Matt Mullenweg, one of Business Week’s 25 Most Influential People on the Web, shared an insightful essay on the Culture of Distraction. Referencing a recent Joe Kraus presentation, Paul Graham’s Acceleration of Addictiveness, Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Huxley’s Brave New World as well as Orwell’s 1984, Matt politely yet poignantly shares his concern: Is Silicon Valley creating products that are so engaging that they’re also incredibly distracting, to the detriment of creativity and productivity?

Ironically, Matt used the essay to also announce his company’s new comment push notification feature for iOS app-enabled devices such as iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Hmmm? Now, while some might consider this a paradoxical juxtaposition – the ultimate of postmodern marketing – he still makes some insightful and important points to consider.

Microsoft’s commercial humorously makes the point that we just might need a phone to save us from our phones.

As paradoxically juxtaposed to Apple, who would have us stop the world to reflect on life–using an iPhone of course.

Slow-tech to save us from high-tech? Yin and yang might be the key to balancing what we do and how we do it. Kickin’ back a bit every now and then, so we can keep KICKin’ IT IN!

I believe that the biggest gift we can impart on our kids is the ability to be mindful – to pay attention to the things and to the people that are actually around them. In 10 years, that’s going to feel VERY VERY different than the norm.

—Joe Kraus, Partner at Google Ventures
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Student Loans Worry Students, Families, and the Fed

Student loans have received considerable media attention in recent months as researchers and policymakers voice growing concern about the heavy debt loads assumed by students and their parents. Now the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has announced via Grading Student Loans that since student loans have grown to be such a huge part of the consumer debt landscape, they’ll be providing quarterly data–detailing the demographics of borrowers–on the Liberty Street Economics Blog.

How big a problem is student debt? Very big. As of the third quarter of 2011, the outstanding balance on student loans ($870 billion) exceeded the outstanding balance on credit cards ($693 billion) and auto loans ($730 billion). That’s big.

—Cheryl Russell, Demographer and Editorial Director of New Strategist Publications

Wonder when colleges will start to be concerned? Students seem concerned as do recent college graduates given they’re:

Moving less (and moving back home more)

Not getting married

Having fewer children

Spending less

Perhaps those trends will turnaround as the job market improves? Hope so, or we might see student loan delinquencies higher than anyone would have thought possible.

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$226,920.00 to Raise a Child (excluding college)

How much to raise a child today you ask? Well, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual report, Expenditures on Children by Families, finding that an average middle-income family* with a child born in 2010 can expect to spend about $226,920.00 ($286,860.00 given an estimated annual inflation of 2.6 percent factored in) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise that child over the next 17 years.

The good news is that this represents only a 2 percent increase compared to 2009. Which according to economist Mark Lino, who who oversees the annual report and serves as the Senior Economist for the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, is below the average increase for the past 10 years which has been 3.2 percent. Lino attribute the lower increase due to the cost of housing and clothing declining a bit. “The economy has taken a downturn so people are cutting back on some items. They may not be buying expensive sneakers,” Lino said. (Nike take note?)

This is the 50th year the USDA has issued its annual report on the cost of raising a child. FYI: In 1960, the first year the report was issued, a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 ($185,856 in 2010 dollars) to raise a child through age seventeen.

You can check out the USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child Calculator to estimate how much it will annually cost to raise a child.

*Nationally, for this report the USDA defines an “average middle-income family” as earning between $57,600.00 to $99,730.00 in annual before-tax household income. The report covers expenditures for major budgetary items estimated in this study consisting of any direct parental expenses made on children through age 17. These expenditures exclude college costs and other parental expenses on children after age 17.

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What Makes Kids Kick

A collection of ideas, research, and thoughts about kids today.

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