Tablet computer for babies wins 'worst toy' distinction

Dec. 5, 2011 at 3:48 PM ET

What do Coke, trampy dolls, the WWE, rapper T-Pain and an iPad wannabe have in common?

All are in some way associated with toys nominated for the TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children) award, which is the annual "worst toy" honor given by the friendly folks at the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood.

The voting period is over and the CCFC recently announced its winner: The Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet, (dubbed as an "iPad designed for babies") which captured 43 percent of the vote and beat out: the I Am T-Pain Mic (a microphone that  makes your kid's voice sound like the mouthy, misogynistic rapper); the Monster High Ghoul Spirit Fearleading Doll 3-Pack; the WWE Colossal Crashdown Arena; and Monopoly - Coca Cola 125th Anniversary Collector's Edition.

While we are pretty sure the T-Pain would cause plenty of listening pain, and that "Fearleading" is a word that should be banished forever, apparently the CCFC was most appalled by the idea that a company would dare suggest that screentime for babies is educational. The organization's press release compared it to a Pavlovian tool for teaching rats:

“While all the choices were horrifying, the Vinci seems the most insidious to me,” said CCFC member Anne M. Deyser of Westborough, Massachusetts.  “It’s likely to convince parents that they are doing something positive for their babies when that couldn't be farther from the truth.”  Added Peggy Sissel-Phelan, Ed.D., of Little Rock, “People don’t know that without human attention, babies won't develop normally, much less optimally.  They will, however, learn how to push the buttons to make the screen react.  Rats can do that!”  

The New York Times' Motherlode blog questioned the winning choice with K.J. Dellantonia writing:

The people who voted for the Vinci as the year’s worst toy pointed out its insidious implication that screen time is affirmatively good for tiny kids. Point taken — but the Vinci people could counter with the idea that a parent and a child interacting together over a Vinci would be a good thing.

Dellatonia wonders, too, if the fact that the Vinci Genius' name "so reminiscent of Baby Einstein and its overblown promises of learning opportunities" didn't help it garner votes.

Meanwhile, Wired.com's Geek Dad blogger Brad Moon can't get over the Vinci's $479 pricetag.

 Sure, VINCI features tempered glass and soft handles and it looks kind of cool, but why bother going down this path? Drop a few bucks on a decent case (and, yes, you can pick up inexpensive third party versions that are just as grippy or protective), hit the Apple Store for a refurb original iPad and you can have your pick of thousands of educational apps, more on-board storage, WiFi (which the VINCI lacks), and longer battery life for less than you’d pay for the VINCI.

What do you think is the worst toy out this year?

More great TODAY Moms content:

The most popular baby names of 2012, revealed

Getting baby to kick the bottle takes fairy magic

Chickenpox lollipops? Some moms may be sending them in mail