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Want a brainier baby?

  1. #1
    soon2bmom is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Want a brainier baby?

    I was very tempted to buy this second hand Baby Einstein set from the asiaexpat classified the other day, good thing I didn't! Such videos are actually bad for baby's development as this Time article reports:,00.html

  2. #2
    capital is offline Banned
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    May 2004
    I'd have to agree with that. It is amazing at what marketing can do.

  3. #3
    mel_g20 is offline Registered User
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    Dec 2007
    Stanley, Hong Kong
    I dont think the article is saying they are bad - just that there is no evidence or research done to say if they are good or bad.

  4. #4
    Buckeroo is offline Registered User
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    May 2006
    Hong Kong

    Everything in moderation

    (Yes, exactly --mel_g_20!)

    I totally agree that no amount of TV watching can compensate for human interaction. That said, I do let my kids watch TV --no more than 1 hour a day, max. AND whenever they're watching, somebody always has to be watching with them and interacting with them by pointing out the things they see onscreen, asking questions, talking about them and how they relate back to things in our lives, etc.

    Below is an email from Dr. Linda Acredolo, well-respected child psychologist and co-author of BABY SIGNS: How to Talk with Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk. (Apologies in advance for the length, but I assure you, it is worth the read).

    I'd like to take a moment to address the issue of TV/DVDs and babies from the point of view of a researcher very familiar with the existing literature. (I meant this to be short, but as you?ll see, it didn?t turn out that way! Sorry.)

    As is true of many issues upon which opinions differ, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Neither position --that all televised material is BAD, BAD, BAD or that all televised material is GOOD, GOOD, GOOD --is supported by the data. Here's what we do know:

    PARENT-CHILD INTERACTION. First of all, the data from hundreds and hundreds of studies support the conclusion that one-on-one interaction between parents and children is critically important to all aspects of early development. Of course, that should be high on every parent's "to do" list.

    However, one-on-one interaction with parents isn?t the only way children learn important lessons. They learn through playing with toys on their own (building towers with blocks, dressing dolls, stacking rings, etc.), watching nature from the safety of a stroller, listening to and learning to sing simple songs, leafing through books on their own, playing with other children, exploring their fingers and toes, etc. In fact, a parent who constantly hovers over a child is denying that child the opportunity to discover new wonders and conquer new challenges on his/her own. As we point out in Baby Hearts, data show that toddlers take more pride in tasks they have chosen and completed themselves.

    THE AAP POLICY. But what about TV and children's development? After all, the American Academy of Pediatrics has taken the strong position that children under the age of 2 shouldn't be exposed to any televised material because "Too much television can negatively affect early brain development." Surely they've based this strong conclusion on a solid research foundation.

    The truth, however, is that no convincing data yet exist to support their conclusion. Sometimes a study from the University of Washington (D. Christakis et al.) is cited as evidence, but looking at the details of the study, no serious researcher would condone drawing the AAP's conclusion. Even the recently reported research from the same laboratory of the effects of the Baby Einstein videos showed only a small, transitory effect on language that had disappeared by 17 months. That?s hardly convincing evidence of a "negative effect on early brain development."

    What many other studies have shown, in contrast, is that it's the content of what's watched that matters. This is true whether the outcome measures are cognitive ones (e.g., grades in school) or social/emotional ones (e.g., aggression). For example, in terms of early language specifically, data do show that watching shows that elicit participation --like Dora, Blues Clues, and the Baby Signs? DVDs actually facilitates language development. So do shows that feature simple language in ways children can follow --like Clifford and the Baby Signs? DVDs. And, of course, when it comes to our Baby Signs? DVDs, there's also the fact (confirmed by the many emails I've received this week) that our DVDs actually teach signs on their own which the babies then proudly teach their parents!

    SO WHY DID THE APP STATE THINGS SO STRONGLY? I think I know why. My hunch comes from something I heard Dr. Benjamin Spock himself say once. He said that doctors often try to scare their patients in order to keep them from doing extreme things --like not taking their medications long enough. He gave the example of a doctor who says to a mother, "And if you don't give your child these vitamins every single day, he'll develop rickets!" He continued: "That's how we make them pay attention!"

    So, what I think is that the AAP is really targeting (a) parents who use TV as a babysitter, not just occasionally, but routinely for long periods of time, (b) parents who let their child watch alone, not just occasionally, but routinely for long periods of time, and (c) parents who pay no attention at all to content, not just occasionally, but routinely for long periods of time. In other words, they are trying to scare irresponsible parents into behaving responsibly. The problem is that parents who are by nature "responsible," are now being made to feel like bad parents if they use TV material at all.

    BOTTOM LINE? Remember the old adage, "Everything in moderation?" Well, that seems to be the safest position on this issue, too. TV, like any other tool or toy, can be a wonderful addition to a young child's life if it's used "responsibly." That's what I truly believe, and until there's hard data showing anything to the contrary, I'm totally comfortable with that position --and with providing the best televised content for babies ever produced, the Baby Signs? DVDs.

    I hope this way-too-long analysis sheds some light on this controversial issue.
    Last edited by Buckeroo; 09-09-2008 at 07:55 AM. Reason: typos

  5. #5
    Nashua852's Avatar
    Nashua852 is offline Registered User
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    Jan 2008
    Yuen Long, Hong Kong
    I agree, the article does not claim it is either good or bad. I have occasionally referred to my 'baby einstein breaks' when typing up a quick email, however most of the time I think its important to sit down with my 9 month old son and talk about, point and question what's going on screen. He watches the moving images with interest but seems enthralled whenever my husband or myself are sort of commentators, I think this is down to him feeling included in what's going on.

    I actually like these DVDs. We got the box set as a gift from a friend and for us it's been

    1. Another way to interact with our bab -- he gets a fair share of books a day too but there aren't as many ripped pages!

    2. He gets to see images of things such as animals and boats and the like which he wouldn't necessarily see in HK.

    That being said, MODERATION is key - no more than half an hour at the very most. These videos are NOT going to make your child brainier, but use it as another channel to communicate with them, to talk with them - to make them feel involved. We live in a technology fuelled world what's the point in being excessively stringent about watching 'no tv' only to have them defy this later on in life?

  6. #6
    aussiegal is offline Registered User
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    Jan 2007
    I agree with Capital, amazing what a bit of good marketing and appealing to parent's desires for brainy kids can do! I've never liked baby einstein myself but I do like Blue's clues.

    I think in a place like HK where most of us don't have gardens it's unrealistic to say, no tv for young children. I mean, every day is a struggle thinking of things to do to get them out of the house so if i can't put them in front of the tv for a bit that would drive me crazy! Most of the time i watch with my eldest, who is 2 and a half and talk to him about everything he is seeing. I think it is amazing how much they can learn from that.

    My 15 month is not interested in tv at all so i don't have to worry about him getting too much.

    Everything in moderation but monitoring content is probably the most important thing.

  7. #7
    MLBW Guest
    I disagree that the article didn't mention that tv for babies can be bad. Below are a few quotes--including The American Academy of Pediatrics that recommends babies don't watch tv before they are 2. Of course, if a child happens to see a bit of tv once in awhile I wouldn't happen to think there is harm from that. However, when it is like a scheduled part of their lives--it's not a normal way for children to learn--and although they may seem to be "messmerized" by the program--as the article points out--that's not a good thing.

    Also, a recent Cornell study finds that there may be a significant link between tv viewing in young children (under 3) and an increase in autism rates.

    Although being inside with my son all day and trying to find something for him to do is really a struggle--I'm skipping the tv until he's older, just in case the experts are right and the marketers of baby products are wrong.

    "The more TV babies watch, the more likely they are to have attentional problems later in life." Christakis cites a long-term study that tracked children from age 1 through age 7. It found that for each additional hour of daily TV viewing before age 3, a child's chances of later developing problems paying attention increased 10%.

    "The more TV babies watch, the more likely they are to have attentional problems later in life." Christakis cites a long-term study that tracked children from age 1 through age 7. It found that for each additional hour of daily TV viewing before age 3, a child's chances of later developing problems paying attention increased 10%.

    "Parents say, 'My child can't stop looking at it! She loves it!'" Christakis says. "Well, true, she can't stop looking at it, but that doesn't mean she loves it." Not only might Baby not be enjoying the program, Christakis says, "but based on the research I've done, there's reason to believe these products have deleterious effects on the developing mind." Christakis is not alone in this thinking. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV viewing of any kind before age 2.

  8. #8
    aussie mum is offline Registered User
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    Apr 2007
    my 2 and half year old son LOVES watching the baby einstein "Shapes" DVD. It is one DVD that he asks to watch regularly and i have no problem allowing him to watch it. It is has been a favourite of his for almost a year and as he learnt all the different shapes he took great pleasure in naming all the shapes he would see while out and about and singing the song.
    Fun and educational. I see nothing wrong with that!

    I'm with the majority here - everything in moderation, together with a parent/carer for interaction !

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