My iPod used to be a vital part of my parenting arsenal, but this morning I'm afraid to touch it.
Jeanne Sager: According to the Telegraph, iPod maker Apple has openly admitted to finding child-labor usage in its Asian factories. A total of eleven kids were reported to have played a role in the manufacture of the ubiquitous music player.
That would be the player my 4 1/2-year-old clenched in her hand last week. (I wanted to keep her occupied with the Imagination Movers while the dentist cleaned my teeth.) The player I keep stocked with a playlist of kids' music for carpool. The player I pulled out in a pinch for our daily "tunes afternoon" when the snowstorm knocked out service for our Sirius|XM player last week.
And now my go-to for child entertainment has become a symbol of child exploitation.
According to UNICEF, an estimated 158 million children aged 5 to 14 are engaged in child labor around the world. The work interferes with their education and often forces them to do the most menial of jobs -- the sorts of things we adults would be hard-pressed to sign up for (nevermind letting our kids do them).
There's a reason we try to shop from companies that affirm that their products were made by "sweatshop-free labor": Giving financial support to companies that engage in child exploitation is tantamount to exploiting kids ourselves. And you don't have to be a parent to have a bad taste in your mouth when it comes to hurting kids.
Apple is claiming that the factories that used child labor were not following the company's directives, and they've taken steps to correct the problem. It may play out that it isn't technically Apple's fault. What's more, considering that it was eleven kids out of hundreds of factory workers, chances are good that my particular iPod wasn't made by a child.
But I'm not sure I'm willing to play with the numbers, because I use my iPod with my kid. Which makes it hard NOT to think about the kids who could have touched it before her.
Does your music sound like it's been mixed in the mud today?
|Jeanne Sager is a mom to Jillian and a writer from upstate New York. She's strung words together for Babble.com, Kiwi Magazine and AOL's Holidash, and she shares her award-winning weekly newspaper column on her blog, Inside Out.|