Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"Baby Einstein" Videos *HURT* Language Development

A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics by Frederick Zimmerman, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, and Andrew Meltzoff of the University of Washington found that with 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. These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form.

"The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew," said Dr. Christakis. "These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos."

"Parents and caretakers are the baby's first and best teachers. They instinctively adjust their speech, eye gaze and social signals to support language acquisition. Watching attention-getting DVDs and TV may not be an even swap for warm social human interaction at this very young age. The youngest babies seem to learn language best from people," Meltzoff said.

"In my clinical practice, I am frequently asked by parents what the value of these products is," said Dr. Christakis. "The evidence is mounting that they are of no value and may in fact be harmful. Given what we now know, I believe the onus is on the manufacturers to prove their claims that watching these programs can positively impact children's cognitive development."

The authors of the new study might suggest reading instead: children who got daily reading or storytelling time with their parents showed an increase in language skills.

I'll admit that both my children have occasionally watched "Baby Einstein" and LeapFrog DVD's. However, it's a fraction of the time DH & I spend reading to them. Parents need to understand that "educational" videos are no substitute for human interaction. If one wants a "brainy baby", what one needs to do is spend quality time with him/her!

1 comment:

Marye said...

That is interesting. Thanks for visiting my blog..and the information on the proficiency test. :)