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Should We Throw Out Our iPods?

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My iPod used to be a vital part of my parenting arsenal, but this morning I'm afraid to touch it.

woman with ipod

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?

next: Prepare NOW for a Disaster
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sara March 1, 2010, 2:42 PM

They said the kids were 15 (you’ll find 15 year olds working at your local waterpark also). It’s not like they were using nine year olds.

Anonymous March 1, 2010, 4:03 PM


Adam March 1, 2010, 4:04 PM

Try to think of it another way. These 15 year old kids’ families might have been in financial trouble that left their parents stressed beyond belief when they considered putting the next meal on the table. These kids sucked it up, and took initiative when our American teens would have hidden in the dark recesses of their rooms to play video games. Using your ipod is almost like donating to those struggling families.

friend March 1, 2010, 5:01 PM

oh puleezzzz… let me ask you this: would your kids rather work and make money or go to school and learn? some people are better at one thing than another. as long as they are treated fairly, i don’t see a problem with it. seriously, if ALL child labor should be banned, would that also include paying your kids and allowance for doing chores? having them work at school fundraisers? there are child labor laws in america that even allows it with limit on hours. so the question is, really, what’s your point???

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 12:23 PM

Great article! Enjoyable reading. There is one point to submit about funny shirts.

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