This Isnt the Solution

This weekend I was working on a stroller review comparing our old UppaBaby Vista with our new Baby Jogger City Select. Searching for a few images to use in the post I came across a blog post about a homemade iPad mount for their kid a Mom made for her City Select. After reading the post I was, as a parent, well, not horrified but definitely annoyed. I understand that we all have that point at which we will do anything to shut up comfort our kids when they hit a high enough decibel or enough time elapses with the crying/screaming. Sure, No problem, I get it. But I think it’s a completely different story to preempt that potential situation by giving them something in the hopes of keeping them quiet.

To the author, Mrs. Graham’s credit she does point out that she knows that people are not going to be happy with her letting her 2 year old kid watch TV and invites “HAVE AT IT haters”. Well, this hater is gonna hate I guess.

This Hater Having at It

iPad Mount

Photo from Laura Graham,

So, I could go on about how tons of studies site the effects of TV on kids younger than 2, or how the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of “quality programming” (like Baywatch reruns?). I could assert that “screen time”, such as an iPad or smart phone, should be treated the same as “TV time”. I might point out that The first 2 years of life are critical to brain development, and that you basically get out of your kid what you put into them intellectually during this time. I might go on to say that screen based media can easily replace time that kids should be spending playing and interacting with the world. Possibly, I would go so far as to point out that this time is SO critical in a child’s formation of social, intellectual and developmental skills that it is a shame to waste it by getting them hooked on Elmo (or whatever)…but I will not go there.

I think about it like this: I’m building my kids brain with information and experiences in the same way I am building his body with healthy food. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mountain Dew Code Red and Cool Ranch Doritos in the same way I love the internets, but neither of those things are good for my kid. I feed him food that my wife and I make to help him grow up healthy and strong for the same reason we read to him all the time and play with toys that don’t have lights or make sounds (another post topic).

Crying? There Is An App for That

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I’m a SUPER tech nerd. I’ve always got the newest phone, iGadget, Xbox, online game, fully-wired house or you name it. But when it comes to my kid, all my devices and screens get turned off when he comes in the room. I have to say, I honestly get more enjoyment from our time playing together with his unit blocks than I do using any of my devices. Anyway, the thing that really killed me about finding this post was scrolling down, reading the comments and finding this one: iStroll Kid wrote, “We are currently developing an iPad case that connects to a stroller – patent pending, called the iStroll Kid“. I was hooked at this point, so how could I not click the link?

But before I talk about the iStroll Kid I should say that I’m a product designer and I love it (LOVE IT!!) when I see people designing products for themselves, like Mrs. Graham did. While I don’t agree with her decision to to add an iPad to her stroller, I completely applaud her ingenuity and workmanship on putting this together.

Now, Christian Souza at iStroll Kid is a different story. Mr. Souza posts as his inspiration for this product on his site:

Paul Graham from Y Combinator once said that the key to good products is to look for problems and then try to solve them. I had a problem. Being a first-time dad, my problem was my son would not relax in his stroller. That’s the problem I solved, and I hope that if you have a similar problem, it will solve it for you too. Even if you don’t have my specific issue, having the iStroll Kid is still a great way to expose your child to the wealth of educational opportunities that exist on the iPad when he might otherwise just be sitting there.

Let me say that again in case you missed it: “a great way to expose your child to the wealth of educational opportunities that exist on the iPad WHEN HE MIGHT OTHERWISE JUST BE SITTING THERE”.

Just sitting there? If your impression of all your kid is doing while in their stroller out in the world is “just sitting there” then you have bigger issues as a parent, my friend.

PRO TIP: another approach to fixing your “not relaxing in the stroller problem”, 3 tablespoons of Nyquil. Just spit-balling design ideas here. writer Lauryn Escobar, who wrote one of the reviews on the iStroll Kid website says “iStroll Kid Lets Your Kid Be More Addicted to Your iPad Than You“. like it’s a good thing? Ms. Escobar adds “Let’s face it, normal everyday tasks like driving, running errands, standing in line at the grocery store, and shopping are boring to your babies and toddlers”

NO, NO, NO. It’s as if both Ms. Escobar and Mr. Souza are saying that if a child is not actively being entertained by someone, or in both of their cases apparently some device, then they are completely idle and will quickly become a nuisance to them. On the contrary, kids are the most amazing sponges on earth, and they are constantly learning at an astronomical rate. Learning things like “if I scream and cry, my parents will give me that opiate device again”.

Hold on, I’m getting distracted. Let me focus on Mr. Souza and the iStroll Kid for a second. As an Industrial Designer and former guest professor at Auburn University, one of the fallacies that I talked about in my classes, and I have to constantly repeat to my friends that call me with “a great idea for a product” that they want me to help them design, patent and produce:

“This design is satisfactory for me, it will therefore be satisfactory for everybody else”

Mr. Souza, your first mistake (as a designer) is assuming that just because your kid is unhappy if he doesn’t have a screen in front of him that this means that ALL kids are unhappy if they don’t have a screen in front of them. Your second mistake (as a designer) is assuming that if you as a parent make the decision to pacify your kid with a screen that ALL parents want to pacify their kids with a screen. And don’t even get me started on your really expensive 3D printed model with undersized mounting tabs and insufficient wall thicknesses…oh never mind.

Field Test

Mr. Souza posted a video on his site that says it all (at 3:56). His kid has the screen taken away and is crying, has no interest in sharing or interacting with the two girls standing there, meanwhile several kids are joyfully playing in the background on the carpet (screenless):

iStroll Kid Clip

Screen capture at 3:56 of the iStroll Kid product video (click pic for video)

C’mon Dude.

Here is what I want to see from you Mr. Souza. Mount the iStroll kid on your stroller and turn on the photo app with the rear camera active, then maybe your kid will interact with the world around him?


P.S. to Mrs. Graham, WAR EAGLE!