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Einstein Didn't Have a DVD Player

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Do you feel like the "Baby Einstein" DVDs aren't helping your kid learn? You're not the only one.

baby watching tv

Dr. Nina Shapiro: There has been much debate regarding the educational benefit (or detriment) of television viewing, even when the shows in question are educational DVDs for young children. Many educational shows are geared toward children under 2 -- and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for the under-2 crowd. While this may seem Draconian, new data actually shows that even educational DVDs may be harmful to young children.

A new study (set to be published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine) has found that educational videos do not improve language abilities in 1- to 2-year-old children, despite manufacturers' claims that they do. Researchers tested vocabulary abilities in 96 1- to 2-year-olds; half of the children were then given educational DVDs to watch in their homes. Six weeks later, all of the children were tested again. The children who had watched the DVDs had learned NO words specifically emphasized in the DVDs, and they displayed NO increased evidence of language-learning when compared with the group who had not watched the DVDs.

Interestingly, the children who (according to their parents) had begun watching similar DVDs at a very young age scored lower overall on tests of language ability. There are several possible explanations for this. Perhaps parents who are already concerned about their child's language development use DVDs to enhance language learning. Or perhaps parents who use DVDs early are less likely to engage in activities to promote language development. Worst case scenario: Early viewing of even educational DVDs may actually impair language development. 

The jury is still out as to why children who watch DVDs have poorer language development than those who don't. Certainly many factors could explain this. While it's unlikely that occasional screen time is truly detrimental to young kids, more and more evidence shows that these "educational" DVDs don't really "educate," as they claim they do. Entertain, maybe. But educate? No.

If you want your children to learn something, get down on the floor with them, play with them, run around, read a book, cuddle. Put some Mozart on in the background for good measure.


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13 comments so far | Post a comment now
adelaide dancing March 7, 2010, 5:43 AM

einstein once said that the only real knowledge is experience, we learn through action, videos and DVDs can only go so far, they are passive learning without the requirement for the viewer to take action they are not really learning imho

Shannon March 7, 2010, 8:29 AM

I wish ya’ll would stop posting about baby einstein dvds are not really going to teach your baby. My son has all 26 dvds & watches one every day after outside playtime while I make dinner. He also watches World World & Super Why in the mornings after our morning walk as I do some light cleaning. Then we go out for playtime & come back in for lunch. I read to him 3 times a day & we sing nursery rhymes & puzzles too. My son is 19 months old & is very bright & says almost 40 words, some animals & shapes. I’m constantly stimulating him & do not for one moment think that watching an educational cartoon or einstein dvd is is hurting him. I do know that he’s learned the word apple from one of his einstein dvds. 3 shows a day may seem a lil much to some, but for us it works. I get stuff done & he relaxes some before I turn off the tv & put on music to dance.

Monica March 7, 2010, 1:29 PM

Not the Baby Einstein but the Your Baby Can Read actually works. My son is three and doing well. But its one of those thing you have to keep up or they fall behind again.

Sarah March 7, 2010, 3:07 PM

Why do kids that young need to know how to read? What happened to kid just being kids and playing with toys and having fun? Now parents want their kids to be the best and the smartest. Unfortunately, by watching these tv shows and videos kids are losing their sense of creativity and their hands-on experience with words. It’s too bad that we have become a society in which we constantly blame someone else because our child isn’t smart enough or put our child in front of a tv and leave the teaching up to someone else. I work at an early intervention program and I see speech delays way too much…it is one of our biggest referral reasons.

Sarah March 8, 2010, 12:31 AM

The problem is some people seem to see the DVD’s and CD’s as a method of teaching. It must be remembered these are purely entertainment.
My son who is about to turn 3 has gone to sleep every night since he was about 6 months old listening to Baby Vivaldi and he loves it. I don’t expect him to wake up one morning and start playing a concerto. It is my job to teach him not some DVD. He watches The Little Einsteins and loves them but once again for entertainment only, not to learn his 1,2,3’s and a,b,c’s.

Elizabeth March 14, 2010, 2:21 PM

In the 1960’s, a television show targeted 3, 4, and 5 year olds. It included live animation, and techniques borrowed from commercials, plus celebrities and music. The goal was to teach youngsters about cooperation, emotions, and yes, abc/123’s. The show was scrutinized and tested more than any before. The show is still sucessful and popular today. The show is Sesame Street.-The tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell- 2000

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