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Baby Einstein Folks Go A-Courting

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Remember the Baby Einstein fiasco in recent news?

baby watching tv

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Baby Einstein co-founders William and Julie Aigner-Clark were surely bummed when, due to the threat of a class-action lawsuit, Disney (the present owners of the brand) issued tons of refunds to parents who bought the DVDs.

The suit cited studies conducted by the University of Washington that linked children under two who watch TV with attention problems and prolonged language development, and thus claiming Baby Einstein products were, in essence, making fraudulent claims to make kids smarter.

In response, an article in the New York Times features this quote from Aigner-Clark: "I'm proud of what I made. Welcome to the 21st century. Most people have televisions in their houses, and most babies are exposed to it. And most people would agree that a child is better off listening to Beethoven while watching images of a puppet than seeing any reality show that I can think of."

"All we're asking for is the basis for what the university has represented to be groundbreaking research," said her husband William Clark. "Given that other research studies have not shown the same outcomes, we would like the raw data and analytical methods from the Washington studies so we can audit their methodology, and perhaps duplicate the studies, to see if the outcomes are the same."

According to the article, Mr. Clark claims he's been looking to do this for years, but his requests were blown off.

"On the 2007 study, the complaint said, the university sent incomplete data, redacted so as to make re-analysis impossible."

Hey, I knew full well about those studies that said children have no business watching TV until they're two, but I bought the DVDs anyway. And you know what? My kids didn't watch them all day, every day -- just once in a while. And I don't think they affected my kids negatively one way or the other.

Did any of you guys seek refunds? And if so, are you pissed off at Baby Einstein?


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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Dancing around the living room to Beethoven, not watching it. January 15, 2010, 4:44 PM

I feel like this is familiar story, along the lines of the woman who sued the whiskey company because they did not warn her alcohol could have a negative effect on her fetus. The people who smoked and sued the cigarette companies because they were not warned about the hazards on the package. Where is the common sense? Use it. My kids did not watch Baby Einstein so I could wash the dishes for 20 more minutes or chat on the phone with my friends for an extra half hour. TV is not a necessary tool to child raising and I don’t blame the blowhards of Baby Einstein for a marketing ploy that worked on parents who were all too eager to eat up the false reasoning. Parents who were suckers: YOU BLEW IT. Thank god it was not something detrimental to your child’s development. Use your heads next time. Lay off the pop marketing of the moment. Learn from your blunder.

Personalized baby blanket January 18, 2010, 1:32 AM

I feel like this is familiar story, along the lines of the woman who sued the whiskey company because they did not warn her alcohol could have a negative effect on her fetus. The people who smoked and sued the cigarette companies because they were not warned about the hazards on the package. Where is the common sense? Use it.

Maggie Deigh January 18, 2010, 6:47 AM

We have the Baby Einstein videos, and we use them appropriately, and we still believe in them. Yes, if you just park your kid in front of the tv, it’s not a good thing. But that’s not what these videos were designed for. They are INTERACTIVE videos. Yes, you’re supposed to dance around to the music, not sit there and watch it. Parents are supposed to be playing this WITH their children, narrating for and interacting with their baby, because THAT’S how babies learn. The videos are like lesson plans, not babysitters. No child will learn much of anything if you dump him or her in a classroom full of educational materials IF THERE IS NO TEACHER! If you use them in the manner they were intended for use, you will be amazed at how much both you AND your child will learn. If you’re just popping it in the dvd player to give yourself a break from your kid, you are doing a grave disservice to both of you.
Videos don’t teach children. Parents do. There’s nothing wrong with using a video lesson plan, but you have to put the time and effort into it, you can’t just push play and think that’s going to be any good.
My 17 month old daughter has learned an extensive sign language vocabulary that has made a world of difference in her ability to communicate her wants and needs. She is learning the alphabet. She has learned some shapes and colors and loves leading me around the house to point at stuff…the wall, the cat, some toy, a shoe, the ball…every little thing, and she’s hungry for the knowledge, you can see it when she points and gives me the “question look”. And I’ll tell her the shapes, the colors, the letters of the alphabet, whatever it is that she wants to know right then. I do not stop to answer the phone. It is a full time job. I spend at least 12 hours a day actively teaching my child, and she is thriving.
They shouldn’t be slamming good lesson plans like Baby Einstein. They should be slamming bad parents who don’t think it’s worth their time or effort to get actively involved in their child’s education. It’s called responsibility, people.

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