The competition was stiff. The campaigning was fierce. Passions ran high. But in the end, one toy stood out as the worst of the worst: the 2-In-1 iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad by CTA Digital.
With 45% of the vote, the iPotty bested runner-up VIP Upgrade Membership by The Real Tooth Fairies (30%) to win the 2013 TOADY (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young children) Award. Monopoly Empire (11%) and PLAY-DOH Create ABCs App (10%) also had impressive showings while the Imaginext Mega Apatosaurus by Fisher-Price (3%) finished a distant last.
Michelle Salcedo of Greenville, SC eloquently explained her vote for the winner: “Toilet learning should be a time of positive interaction between child and caregiver. Also, children should be aware of the cues in their bodies as they learn. This toy takes this social/emotional focus out of the process and substitutes the hypnotism of a screen.” Added Alex Reynard of Royal Oak, MI, “It not only reinforces unhealthy overuse of digital media, it's aimed at toddlers. We should NOT be giving them the message that you shouldn't even take your eyes off a screen long enough to pee.”
Other nominees certainly had their “fans.” Voters were especially irked by The Real Tooth Fairies’ gender stereotypes and commercialization of a childhood icon. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of Holland, NY wrote, “It’s a hijacking of one of children's most magical tiny creatures, a wee last tradition imagined differently by each child and family.” And Chris Morran at Consumerist blog sarcastically noted, “It’s a way to charge parents money to enforce gender, fashion, physical, cultural, and class stereotypes. Rad!”
Chris Edwards of Farmville, NC voted for Monopoly Empire “because of the sheer and shameless commercialism that appears to be the essence of this variation of the game.” David Barker commented on our website that the Play-Doh app was the worst because it takes “special pains to stifle all creativity and enforce conformity.” And David Sands, MD, of Fairfield, IA chose the Imaginext Mega Apatosaurus because it “teaches very young children—it's recommended for ages three to eight—that violence is the preferred approach to resolving conflict.”
In the end, though, the iPotty won. It’s clear that CCFC members are appalled by the escalating push to insinuate screens into every aspect of young children’s lives. It’s the third consecutive year that voters chose a screen-based toy for infants and toddlers as the TOADY winner. Last year, The Apptivity Monkey—a stuffed animal with an iPhone in its belly—took home the prize and the Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet won in 2011.
Thanks to everyone who voted and helped spread the word. Together, we’re shining a light on the toy industry’s most troubling trends—because children’s play is too important to surrender to marketers.