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Video Game for Baby

How young is too young for technology?

I pondered this about a year and a half ago, when Walt Disney Co. announced it was launching a kids mobile-phone service, raising the possibility that 6-year-olds would be running around with cell phones. Companies like Firefly argued it was actually a good idea to give your kid a phone---for safety and security purposes. It's hard to imagine that anyone in this era could possibly live 24 years before acquiring their first mobile phone, as was the case for me.

Now technology is coming to the even younger set. I'm not sure this generation even has a name like Gen X or Gen Y. The Giggles Baby Software is marketing itself as a video game for 6-month-olds.

"Crafted for little minds, this unique keyboard tapping software lets little ones touch and tap the keys for charming and playful on-screen feedback," the pitch sent to me reads. I tried the download of "My Animal Friends," which shows ducks swimming and turtles flying.

Much of the game is directed at teaching babies how to control a mouse of a keyboard, by making the cartoon character respond to movement. Meanwhile, I seem to recall that some 6-month-old children can't even sit up on their own. I do, however, know babies whose parents buy them plastic fake cell phones to play with, and they appear to be a runaway hit.

On the sober side, at least some researchers worry about the health cost to kids who sit too much in front of the computer from an early age, whether it's childhood obesity or attention deficit disorder. It just so happens that the Kaiser Family Foundation sponsored an event yesterday about teens and multitasking---a panel that highlighted, among other things, how difficult it is for advertisers to address teens because they're attentions are so easily frayed.

My family acquired its first computer when I was about 10 or 11. The many thousands of hours I've spent in front of one since then has contributed to serious far-sightedness and repetitive stress injury from typing too much. And I'm still in my early 30s.

This has me thinking once again: Is exposure to technology coming too soon?

By Yuki Noguchi  |  December 13, 2006; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Yuki Noguchi
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