Friday, August 10, 2007

Is Baby Einstein a Lie?

A study published Tuesday in the Journal of Pediatrics shows that Baby Einstein movies are not beneficial to infants. The study goes as far to say it hurts vocabulary development for babies under 17 months of age. Researchers found that for every hour a day infants 8 to 16 months old were shown the videos, they knew six to eight fewer words than other children.

The study surveyed 1,000 parents and then tested the babies on 90 common vocabulary words. Frederick Zimmerman, lead author of the study reported, “The most important fact to come from this study is there is no clear evidence of a benefit coming from baby DVDs and videos and there is some suggestion of harm... The bottom line is the more a child watches baby DVDs and videos the bigger the effect. The amount of viewing does matter.”

So what makes Baby Einstein type videos less valuable than Sesame Street type shows? Well, baby videos have "little dialogue, short scenes, disconnected pictures and shows linguistically indescribable images such as a lava lamp". While Sesame Street type shows are "crafted and tested to meet developmental needs of preschool children". Plus, they are old enough to actively watch and comprehend what is going on, and even answer questions when questions are asked (like in Blues Clues).

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under 24 months, and perhaps that is something parents should aim for. A paper published last year found that parents are not doing a good job of limiting TV and video time. 40 percent of 3 month olds are regular viewers of television, DVDs or videos and by age two 90 percent are regular viewers.

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