09/16/2013 12:32 pm ET

Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' Second Screen Event Requires Kids To Look At Two Screens At Once

If you’re taking your kids to the re-release of "The Little Mermaid" later this month, prepare to see "gadgets and gizmos aplenty" -- and not just in Ariel's grotto.

Yes, Disney wants families to bring their iPhones and iPads when they see the movie, a viewing experience they describe as a Second Screen event -- the second Disney film to get this added feature. It all began as an app designed to take scenes behind the scenes of Ariel's story. But why play at home when you can be glued to two screens at once?

Tim Burton's "The Night Before Christmas" was the initial film to be a Second Screen guinea pig. According to Disney, it went well.

As Yahoo! Games reports, kids will use the app, now available for download, to play games, find hidden treasure, sing along, and compete with other audience members for prizes -- all of which has been tailor-made to fit "The Little Mermaid" movie.

The children in the promo video for the Second Screen film (watch above) seem to be having a grand ol’ time -- holding up their screens and laughing in a theater -- but given that many parents are trying to cut down on screen time, this experiment may be less popular with families than Disney expects.

"Do we really need Ariel to nuture gadget-addiction -- does anyone doubt that our kids will become tech-dependent multitaskers all on their own?" mom of two, Sasha Emmons, asks over at iVillage. "And oh, we're not even addressing the assumption that all parents have a device with which to participate in the event."

Only sixteen theaters total plan to participate in the Second Screen experiment, starting on September 20, and it is offered solely on Apple products.

Catherine Steiner-Adair EdD, a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard, recently spoke to HuffPost about the risks associated with kids overusing electronic devices. "The capacity for attention doesn’t develop as well when kids are used to interacting with a screen that’s instantly gratifying,” she said.

Disney's Second Screen experiment will certainly help moms and dads find out how good at multi-talking their kids can be. But if it doesn't quite work out, we hope moms and dads can ask for a whatchamacalllit? Oh right, refund.

Where do you stand on tablets in the movies? Vote in our poll here.



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