A well-intentioned organization called the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is on a mission to “support parents’ efforts to raise healthy families by limiting commercial access to children and ending the exploitive practice of child-targeted marketing.” The CCFC strives to keep childhood and parenthood free (as much as possible) from corporate interests. While that’s a laudable goal, I’m not particularly interested in discussing its merits. Rather, I want to talk about the CCFC’s annual “TOADY” award — a direct response to the Toy Industry Associations Toy of the Year award. Members of the CCFC vote to give the TOADY (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young Children) to what they consider to be the worst toy of the year in light of their mission. This year’s winner is a toy I never would have known existed — the iPotty.
CTA Digital’s iPotty is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a way of getting kids to use the toilet by bribing them with technology. The potty’s special stand holds an iPad so kids can play with apps while they use the bathroom — or, more likely, while they don’t use the bathroom. I can totally see the iPotty becoming a chair for using the iPad, which I’m sure would be helpful in potty training. CTA acknowledges that “one of the biggest hurdles is gaining the child’s interest and then keeping their attention long enough to properly potty train,” but doesn’t acknowledge that the iPad might just divert attention away from the task at hand and/or train kids that they really don’t need much of an attention span at all. But hey, the iPad stand has three different positions, so kids can use their apps while standing or hovering over the potty. This will certainly go well.
The customer questions and answers are pretty great: “Seriously, is this necessary?” and “Is there an app for wiping?” and “Society reaches a new low. Then starts digging. Why?” Of the 25 posted Q&A, I could only find one that had an actual question about the product. It’s no surprise, then, that the iPotty garnered 45% of the CCFC’s vote for worst toy of the year — they were just less funny about articulating why (“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 TOADY nominees included Hasbro’s Monopoly Empire game, which replaces the property spaces on the usual Monopoly board with “iconic brands.” I’d totally play a Boardwalk Empire Monopoly game, though. A couple of the nominees seemed less ridiculous than others, such as Play-Doh’s ABCs app and Fisher Price’s Imaginext Mega Apatosaurus. The latter, which is cool because it involves a dinosaur, goes wrong with this premise: “The Fisher-Price Imaginext Mega Apatosaurus is the only toy dinosaur complete with armor and two firing cannons on its back.” The only one that really gives iPotty a run for its money is the VIP Upgrade Membership by the Real Tooth Fairies: “In Real Fairyland, girls can use their ‘sparkle dollars’ to give their Tooth Fairy a makeover, party in their ‘party room’ and mock the buck-toothed, glasses-wearing fairy-wannabe Stepella. And with the VIP Upgrade, girls get a closet that ‘holds 200 fairy fashions instead of just 25!’” Seriously, I’d take the iPotty.
And if that’s not bad enough, there’s now an iPad holder for newborns that attaches to bouncy seats. The CCFC has already petitioned Fisher Price to stop making the product immediately. The sole review on Fisher Price’s website is from someone who got it as a gift, but who says, “This product will be kicked to the curb in my house.”
I love that on the Amazon page under “what other items do customers buy after viewing this item” the first entry is the awesome, misanthropic game Cards Against Humanity, and the next is Hyperbole and a Half’s book Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened. The next one is an Amazon gift card. All of these entries suggest the attitudes of customers who have just read about iPotty.