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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Baby Einstein has to admit their DVDs do not educate

posted by Nell Minow

Three cheers for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. In a press release issued today, CCFC announced that “As a result of CCFC’s Federal Trade Commission complaint, Baby Einstein has completely redesigned its website and is no longer making educational claims about its DVDs and videos.”
I have been a long-time critic of DVDs for under-twos and am delighted that they can no longer be marketed as “educational.” Studies have shown that babies learn less from watching these DVDs than they do from spending the same amount of time observing the world around them. The FTC and Disney have acknowledged what parents have known for thousands of years — that babies learn best from interaction and observation.

  • exousia

    FINALLY! The tool that created “slack-jawed” children in front of the TV isn’t considered “educational”. I owned a Christian Daycare for many years. I was baffled when parents, knowing what our TV “guidelines” were, would bring these DVD’s and almost insist that their child watch them at least 2 hrs/day. I never caved in, always stressing that human interaction and time outside exploring (even if from a stroller) had to be more educational. If not more educational, certainly more important in the long run. And if the parent’s felt that strongly about it, there were many DayCare providers that probably agreed with them-I’m sure there were openings.
    The response from the parents was consistently “but I saw on TV that it will give them the leg-up on other children…….”
    I was creating an environment where children wanted interaction with the people around them, and to be active and to explore. What they wanted were children that were happy to sit in front of the TV all evening.
    Nothing can replace the knowledge of the adults around children. The touch of a flower, the feeling of grass under their little feet and the reading of books by grown-ups to children.
    Please don’t let a DVD personality be the main person in your child’s life. Or if you do, remember when your child is a bit older and doesn’t talk with you…………….that you created the environment.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Exousia! The children in your care were very lucky and so were their parents.

  • OCMom

    Check out Into the Minds of Babies: How Screen Time Affects Children from Birth to Age Five. This is an excellent book for parents who want to learn more about the degree to which TV educates kids. Lisa Guernsey doesn’t condemn TV for kids outright; in fact, she offers great examples of television programs that can actually foster learning (Blues Clues, for example). She devotes practically an entire chapter to the Baby Einstein series. She argues that the bombardment of images in these videos–designed ostensibly to hold a baby’s short attention span–makes perfect sense to adults who can sort out what the images mean. But, the images utterly confuse babies and puts them in an almost catatonic state where their brains are trying to figure out how they go together. My oldest daughter (who will turn 3 in May) watched the videos, and while I don’t think she’s been damaged by them, we’ve opted not to show them to our 13-month-old.

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