August 8th, 2007
It is just so hilarious and sad to read this article in yesterday’s LA Times – educational videos reduce the vocabulary of babies. When I wrote up my best toys for toddlers article a couple of weeks ago I included a mini-rant against dvds for babies and toddlers and Baby Einstein in particular. I think it is pretty self-evident to anyone who has actually watched these videos that they are crap.
If you haven’t seen them, they go something like this: Bad music (the kind that some annoying toys play so you let the batteries wear out), very bad puppetry (the kind you could do yourself, only worse, and without the benefit of seeing a real, loving human), bad video clip (often blurry and poorly edited), repeat, repeat, repeat.
Baby Einstein clearly doesn’t offer anything truly innovative or stimulating and the horrible production value should be a tip off. Nobody spent too much effort making them. “Heck they’re just for babies they won’t know the difference,” evil laugh, sound of carting off bundles of money. These videos are just a mind numbing distractions that a parent can justify because they are well marketed.
And I guess they pulled it off. Disney bought up Baby Einstein. Then, the poster child for reduced vocabulary, President Bush, in one of those ridiculous staged moments of his 2007 State of the Union address, pointed to Baby Einstein founder Julie Aigner-Clark to celebrate her enterprising spirit. Yea, for selling that crap business for $200 million. Go America!
I actually like TV and think it is a powerful educator. Especially when kids get older and can really learn from it. And I can even imagine videos that could be properly researched and well executed so that they stimulated the minds of babies and toddlers. I suggest a video of the kids’ caretaker talking to them and playing with them. But Babies and toddlers can find so much more in the real world like playing with their feet, looking out the window and shaking rattles. Anything.
Anyway, the point is, don’t force your kids to watch this crap. If you just can’t help yourself, show them videos of actual people talking or singing or playing real, good music. Or better yet, give them toys and spend actual time interacting with them.