Why the New Baby Selfie App Is Totally Depressing


File this one under “There is literally an app for everything” and/or “What is our parenting world coming to?!”: A Pittsburgh developer named Matthew Pegula has created Baby Selfie, a  99-cent app designed to help your infant take … selfies. I honestly can’t type this with a straight face. (Full disclosure: I couldn’t say “selfie” with a straight face until very recently.) Here’s the description from the Google Play store, where it was launched on Feb. 15: "Baby Selfie is peek-a-boo with a camera twist. Capture your baby's delighted expressions as colorful animals dance onto the screen. Baby Selfie uses custom drawings and fun sounds to grab your baby’s attention and surprise them. We capture your baby’s reaction in a unique, unexpected photo that you’ll love to share."

Um, I’m all for sharing cute baby pictures, but can’t parents capture their baby's attention and get a "unique, unexpected photo” all by themselves? Are we stretched so thin these days that we don’t even have time to jump up and down and make crazy faces and blubbering noises at our babies anymore? And why are we teaching babies — babies! — to take photos of themselves? The self-promoting, oversharing world we brought them into is scary enough without arming them with the skills to DIY while they’re still in diapers. And, apparently, some babies are learning the art of the selfie all on their own.

As a mother of three, one of them a baby, I am totally depressed by this app. I’m all for distractions that keep a baby happy so that you can have five seconds to breathe, but isn’t that what bouncey seats and activity mats and, I don’t know, rattles are for? Do we really need to get the under-1 set hooked on screens now, too? Granted I tend to be a little old-fashioned when it comes to technology (the last video game I played was Frogger, and I still carry around a Filofax), but I’ve seen the glazed-over look that kids get when they have an iPad in hand. If my baby did that, I’d probably call the pediatrician. (You can guess how I feel about that Fisher-Price iPad “Apptivity Seat.”)

I get that there is a time and a place for technology and I’m not completely anti (see this photo as evidence), but I don’t think that means any time or any place, as some parents do. I believe in limiting iStuff and if we’re giving six-month-olds our smartphones (not to chew on but to operate), what’s next? Are they going to start texting us when they have a poop diaper? And how do we teach them that it’s a special treat to play with an iPad when they’ve been wielding one since birth? Not to mention whatever it’s doing to their brain development.

Of course it’s not easy being a “color a picture” parent in this “here’s the iPad” world. I’ve gotten into many battles with my 4- and 6-year-olds when they ask to play with my phone because every other kid around them has one and I say no. But it’s a battle I’m going to continue to fight because I refuse to believe that these kids can’t entertain themselves the old-fashioned way most of the time. Especially my sweet, innocent 3-month-old. But I can see it now: All the cool babies are going to have their own iPhones and be snapping drooly, giggly, cross-eyed selfies and my poor, deprived kid will have to sit on her own, chewing on Sophie the giraffe. She can tell her therapist about it someday.

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