Monday, November 9, 2009

TV Educating or Babysitting?

Since 1998, Disney’s "Baby Einstein" videos and DVDs has been aggressively marketed to parents of young children intent on increasing Junior’s intelligence. For ten years, children from three months to three years (the target group) have been glued to screens and the Disney Empire has raked in millions. A 2003 study found that one-third of all American babies aged between 6 months and two years had been exposed to a Baby Einstein video. Disney’s success has spawned several competitors who promise to give Junior a leg up in the music world, the sports world and maybe even the world of making millions with phony promises.

But the spurt in grey matter hasn’t materialized. Folks at the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood have been pressuring Baby Einstein for evidence that their materials were anything more than electronic baby sitters. Turning up the heat, the American Academy of Pediatrics, concerned with all the time infants are spending transfixed before television sets, has recommended no screen time. Under pressure, then, the Disney marketers are dropping the word "educational" from their advertising and providing refunds to disappointed parents.

While the $15.99 cheque from the Disney empire may appease the saddened parents of dull-eyed, TV-addicted kids, will this sop solve a larger problem? Will it lead parents to get more balanced goals for their children?

Read it all here.


George Patsourakos said...

Parents need to limit the TV use by young children to one hour a day. To use the TV as a babysitting instrument will only have a negative effect on children as they grow older.

Parents need to read more stories -- mostly with pictures -- to children; take them to weekly library story hours, so they can interact with other children, in addition to learning new words; take them to playgrounds for enjoyment; etc. These are the kinds of things that will help children's intellect developing at a higher level at a very young age.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I agree, George. I use to read to my children at night and it helped them develop intellectually. I also removed the television from our home for one year and though they complained, our family life was much richer. We played board games, took walks, went swimming at the nearby lake, and visited friends. My children lost weight. Their social skills improved and they became less materialistic.