Just a Side Note

I have an article that relates to previous class discussions that I want to share:

The great Baby Einstein scam

by Mira Jacob, Shine staff, on Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:43pm PDT

Of course it was too good to be true.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Disney is offering a refund to buyers of its ubiquitous “Baby Einstein” videos, which did not, as promised, turn babies into wunderkinds. Apparently, all those puppets, bright colors, and songs were what we had feared all along—a mind-numbing way to occupy infants.
This news has rocked the parenting world, which had embraced the videos as a miraculous child-rearing staple. Videos that make your kid smarter while you prepare dinner? Genius!
Or not. According to the article, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two years old stay away from watching screens. In the letter threatening Disney with a class-action lawsuit for “deceptive advertising,” public health lawyers hired by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood cited a study which found a link between early television exposure and later problems with attention span.
For many parents, this was the most unsettling of “duh” moments, and a confirmation that nothing, when it comes to child-rearing, is as ever easy as we’d like to make it. So why were we so quick to seize on Baby Einstein videos as technological tutors?
Call it the perfect storm of parenting. Who doesn’t want to believe that there is a magical, wondrous, no-parental-guidance-required product that will turn their kids into Mensa members? The combination of our lack of time, our paranoia over our kids performance, and our faith in technology primed this generation of parents to accept the clever advertising around “Baby Einstein” as truth, just as parents before us have seized on corporal punishment, or the teachings of Dr. Spock.
Still, the idea that a caper this big could be pulled off (according to the Times, in “a 2003 study, a third of all American babies from 6 months to 2 years old had at least one ‘Baby Einstein’ video”) is mind-boggling. Disney’s refund is about as close as we’re going to get to an actual admission that we were sold snake oil, and it casts a pall over the other “educational” toys out there.


-James Frost


~ by kersey3 on November 1, 2009.

2 Responses to “Just a Side Note”

  1. Not sure how I feel about this. I am all for creative mind and body play and as much hands on experience an infant-toddler can get, but, I do not feel it educationally degrading for a 6 month old to watch a half hour video once a week while mom works out..

    Kellie Gibson

  2. I agree with James. From what we have learned in class it seems that infants up to age 2 (? I can’t quite remember the age), should not be watching tv at all. I could be wrong, it could be just up to 6 months. As I understand it, the reason they shouldn’t watch it at all is that especially with young infants, too much stimulation can be detrimental, and the bright colors and movement on the tv are definitely too much. Have you ever noticed how when you watch tv for awhile your eyes start to hurt? I don’t think that is damaging us too much, but it could hurt a developing mind. Coming from a person with ADHD, this article seems perfectly sound.


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