8.15.2007

BABY EINSTEIN ISN'T SO SMART AFTER ALL


Last week, the University of Washington released what is being called an “alarming” study. Their researchers found that for every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. They concluded that these DVD’s are most detrimental to children between the ages of 8 to 16 months. Why is this news? The AAP issued their recommendation against television viewing in 2001 and why would Baby Einstein DVD’s be exempt? My first thought when I heard this was, “Ha ha! IN YOUR FACE people who tell me I should watch these movies. IN YOUR FACE, MOM!”

When I left Luke with my Mom while I was at girls’ camp, she went and purchased a Baby Einstein DVD for him. She knows how I feel about babies watching any sort of television, so I was little frustrated, but not too mad because she was watching Luke for me after all. I actually thought, “Hey, why not? It keeps him occupied.” The first time he wouldn’t watch it. The second time, he would watch it while sitting on someone’s lap. The third time, he was hypnotized by the hand puppet and flashing pictures of animals. By the fourth time, he was walking around the house in a trance chanting, “Dog, Dog, Dog, and humming something by Bach.” (Just kidding about that last one.)


This is isn’t the first time my mother has encouraged a child to fall down a slippery slope into television dependence. I blame my addiction to television on my parents for allowing me to stay up late and watch Johnny Carson as a toddler. When I told my Mom about this Baby Einstein study, she brushed it off, saying, “Oh, you can’t believe everything you read.” This is coming from the same woman who is convinced that her cell phone causes cancer because of some obscure Swedish study!


In the alternative, so your kid doesn’t talk as much as others? Is that a big deal? Won’t the kids catch up eventually? Does Baby Einstein cause long term speech problems? I would argue that many parents would say, “Good Riddance! So my kid doesn’t talk a lot. You call that a problem??”


Here is the irony: After being subjected to 2 weeks of Baby Einstein’s Animal Farm, Luke has never talked more. His vocabulary has more than doubled over the past few weeks and his language comprehension is undoubtedly better. This is what we call a coincidence.

8 comments:

  1. Love Baby Einstein...they put me to sleep!

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  2. Cristin, all I can tell you is.. you're walking on thin ice here. I think you know what I mean.

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  3. I don't see that happening with Carson. He loves Baby Einstein videos. We get them at the library. Tonight he was walking about the house saying "guitar", "drum", "music" after watching the orchestra vid. He pays attention and says what they say on the shows. I find he learns a lot from watching them.

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  4. Isaac has no interest whatsoever in the television. Sometimes I secretly wish he would be a little interested in Baby Einstein, at the least, so I can have a stress-free shower. But I know deep inside it's a good thing he doesn't like TV and I'll be grateful while it lasts. :-)

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  5. you know, that study could be totally bogus considering that they don't take into account how much time the mom spends socializing with her baby outside of watching the movies. There could be a confounding, lurking variable (can you tell I just took Stats?), such as the fact that maybe mom's who are sticking their kids in front of the TV to watch baby einstein all the time don't ever read to their kids or talk to them through the day as much and are using TV as a crutch- so that perhaps it has nothing to do with Baby Einstein, but the habits of the mom instead. Just a thought...Leyna doesn't really care about them either except for at the very beginning when the caterpillar comes out, she gets really excited, and then she's done.

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  6. Trine is onto something..It seems like the 2nd child in the family learns to speak faster because they have another kid to speak and listen to. I say have more playdates! I heard a lot of discussion about TV etc. and pediatritions say no TV/video for kids under 2yrs old. They need to be social with other kids. He'll pick up words. . .just be picky about which kids and what kind of words they say and you'll be set!

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  8. (cristin's mom) It's interesting to read about myself in your blog. I often discover all kinds of things I never knew about my life. For example, I was astonished to learn that my comment (direct quote) about the Baby Einstein news article was "you can't believe everything you read." I apologize for any hint of narcissism or redundancy, but I would like to quote myself: "You can't believe everything you read."

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