Chocolate is no match for the allure of the iPad. Photo from Zhejiang Online
A decidedly modern spin on the old "don’t accept candy from strangers" rule has taken place at a kindergarten in Hangzhou, where almost a third of all students were easily lured into the hands of a stranger by none other than the Apple iPad.
According to a story on Zhejiang Online that was eventually picked up by Sohu, the Dacheng Experimental Kindergarten was doing an exercise to teach children to avoid strangers on May 18 when they realized the true addictive properties of Apple’s hot device. Interestingly, the iPad was not originally intended to be part of the experiment.
A journalist the students had not met was planted in a city park with various lures: chocolate, potato chips, juice and jelled candies. A group of 36 kindergarteners were then led into the park as if it was a normal day of play.
The journalist approached several children, offering them chocolate and other snacks. None of the students took the offer, and in fact oftentimes ran away.
Frustrated by the failure of the snacks, the journalist whipped out her iPad and gave that a shot.
"Would you like to play a game on my iPad?" the journalist asked one little girl, who had previously rejected the snacks.
"Hey, that’s just like my Daddy’s!" the girl immediately replied. "Let’s see if you have the same games!"
Shortly thereafter, the girl was joined by two classmates. "We have one at my house too!" one of them excitedly said. "That game is boring, let’s play the car racing game."
To further the experiment, the journalist attempted to lead them out of sight from the main group. "It’s too hot here, let’s go over there where we can sit in the shade," she said. The students, mesmerized by the iPad, dutifully followed.
In the end, 10 of the students in the 36-child group were lured in. The school professed amazement at the lure of the device — though I’m guessing that most parents are not so unfamiliar with the draw of electronic devices like the iPad.
Luckily it was only a test — but in China where child abduction is an obvious concern, it can only serve as a lesson for children: steer clear of strangers, no matter what they offer you. And it can be a lesson for parents as well — in the experiment it’s apparent that many of these kids were no stranger to the iPad, meaning mom and dad may be giving them plenty of exposure to these devices — so much exposure that it paves the way for unintended consequences such as this.