Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Making Amends: making the iPhone educational

This editorial from the Times-Call in Longmont, Colorado includes an inspired suggestion for an iPhone app that will allow Apple to atone for the atrocious "Baby Shaker."

We presume Jenn Ooton, the Editorial Page Editor, deserves kudos for the suggestion.

PS. If you agree, why not let Dean G. Lehman, the Editor and President, and John Vahlenkamp, the Managing Editor, know:, 

Times-Call Editorial
Publish Date: 5/6/2009
Create application to make amends for 'Baby Shaker'

Apple did the right thing when it pulled an application for the iPhone off the market after people complained that it was insensitive and inappropriate.

The “Baby Shaker” application caused the phone to cry like a baby until the user shook it.

As they vie for the attention of iPhone users, software developers have raced to create new and unusual applications for the “smart phones.” Developers have come up with virtual sheets of bubble wrap, fishing rods and applications to monitor the stock market, the weather, blood pressure, blood sugar and even the H1N1 flu virus.

The applications are downloaded for an average of 99 cents each. At up to 10,000 downloads a day, the money can add up for popular applications.

Though some of the applications might sound a bit inane, they’re typically harmless fun.

Not so in the case of the Baby Shaker.

Shaken baby syndrome is a serious problem and shouldn’t have been made a joke to profit this huge company and the small software developer that created the application.

Shaking can cause a baby or small child’s brain to bounce back and forth within the skull, causing brain damage, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. An estimated 1,200 to 1,600 babies suffer from shaking abuse each year, with one in four dying at the hands of their abusers. The others suffer long-term medical problems that can range from serious brain injuries and mental retardation, to paralysis, blindness, broken bones, seizures, learning difficulties and delayed development.

Shaking babies is no joke.

If Apple really wants to atone for releasing the Baby Shaker, perhaps it should develop a new application that would cry like a baby until the phone user figured out what the phone-baby needs — a diaper change, a feeding, a burping or other comfort. And if the user shook the phone, the phone might die, never to come back to life, or it might be so damaged that it could never again function as it should.

That could teach the people who played this mean-spirited game a little something about the real world.

I left a comment in response:

As the father of a shaken baby who has spent much of the last nine years advocating for education and awareness, I'd like to extend my compliments to the Times-Call and the author for an excellent editorial.

It not only makes the simple and straightforward case for what was wrong with Apple and its app, but has a wonderful suggestion for how Apple can atone.

As with parenting education, it's necessary to educate Apple on what not to do (the "don'ts", but it's not sufficient. They need to know about positive and constructive actions they can take to help parents and caregivers keep children safe ("the do's").

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