I was watching television tonight when a commercial came on for this product:
Now, the name of this particular item is the “Smart Cycle.” It is from Fisher Price, and yet again, I am amazed at what these toy companies must spend on research and development to come up with such innovative product names. I wonder how many meetings it took to come up with that one.
Apparently, the purpose of this
toy educational tool is twofold. One, it purports to teach letters and numbers to your 36 month old to 6 year old (whew! that’s quite a span) while they pedal through such idylls as Math Mountain, Shape Lake, Number Fields, and Letter Creek. So not only can your child learn the difference between circles and squares, they can sweat off those unwanted calories at the same time!
Has the research not already pointed to the fact that video learning such as this does not necessarily make our kids any smarter? That it may in fact be detrimental to their development, as every moment they are parked in front of the television deprives them of true interactive learning? Now before harried moms start hurling the nearest pacifier at me, every mom has been faced with the choice of popping a DVD in, or not taking a shower. And the DVD will win almost every time. Those videos can keep kids occupied in order to give us some precious moments of much-needed sanity sans screaming infant. But relying on them as a primary teaching tool rather than just one of many in your educational arsenal is not the way to go.
Maybe those ad people at Fisher Price realize the jig might be up, so now they are using the rising numbers of overweight children to guilt parents into spending a hundred bucks into believing that they can give their children the best of both worlds. A smart mind and a skinny body! Who could ask for more in one product? We are a society that places value on the ability to multitask, damnit. Too bad most research has also shown that we adults are basically lousy at multitasking and that the human brain is not really set up to perform multiple tasks at a time and do them well. So let’s set up our kids for failure at an even earlier age!
Now perhaps I am speaking from the perspective of a mother who has never really had to deal with multiple days of snow and/or rain keeping my family sequestered inside of our home. Perhaps this would be considered manna from heaven to a parent who has kids in the basement who need to blow off some steam since they have been unable to go outside for an extended period of time. I’d love to hear the opinions of parents who have encountered this situation, and if you would buy this in the hope of keeping your kids from destroying your house. Or maybe you would rather give them some pillows and let them have at it.
What I do know for a fact is that homeboy up there had better turn around and keep his eyes on the road, or he’s gonna crash! You are never too young to learn the rules of the road, buddy! Maybe there is some value to this toy, or as Fisher Prices likes to call it, “physical learning arcade system” after all!