By Debra Bacon
Making a Genius?
As parents we want our children being the smartest, brightest and most well-behaved child on the block.
Over ten years ago, Walt Disney released a series of “educational” videos entitled, Baby Einstein. They were a hit almost instantly. Parents everywhere were wanting them, hoping these video babysitters would magically make their toddlers stand-outs among their peers. Moreover, a desire that a mindset would be developed in their child, leading them to a genius status.
Each video covers different topics through the use of colors and classical music. Their focus is to assist our children learn about life, and the things that surround us in our world. Scenes are introduced with a small amount of narrative from a soft, smooth voiced narrator.
Scenes move quickly, changing subject matter often. This process is something that experts from the American Medical Association relate, is hard for toddlers to follow.
No Way to Learn
The Baby Einstein video series has long been touted as a learning source for infants and toddlers. Thought by the populace to have increased the vocabulary and intellect of children, the Einstein videos have come under fire in recent years.
Research from the University of Washington (2007) revealed that children who watched the Baby Einstein videos had not excelled in social skills, or vocabulary. In fact, youngsters who began watching the videos early on had a more limited vocabulary than their peers.
The study shows that the videos effect on children has been more harmful than helpful.
Educational Claim Debunked
The bottom line is that the Baby Einstein videos have failed to educate toddlers, as many parents assumed. That said, controversy swirls between the public and representatives for the Einstein videos as to what should be, or have realistically been, expected from DVDs.
Still considered “educational” videos, the company now maintains they are designed to be used as interactive tools. However, the website’s original claim indicated the series was designed as an introduction to words and sign language.
Currently, the Baby Einstein website offers their philosophy. In part it reads:
“…intent was to create products that offered interactive experiences for her and her daughter to discover the world together. While Baby Einstein has grown over the years, this same philosophy is at the heart of everything that we do. All of our products are designed to encourage discovery and inspire new ways for parents and little ones to interact.”
Refunds and Reconsiderations
The controversy, stemming from the research studies outing the Baby Einstein DVDs ineffectiveness, caused Walt Disney Company to make a radical move. They began offering refunds late 2009.
The Baby Einstein DVDs covered in the refund offer were those purchased between June 5, 2004 and Sept. 4, 2009. Einstein officials now claim a child will discover more through the videos when a parent or another is present.
Leaving a child alone in front of a television or DVD, of any kind, has proved damaging in development, according to the American Medical Association.
Experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics report that interaction with your child is the way the youngster will learn.