Videos do not change babies into Einsteins

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Is your child not a “Baby Mozart” or “Baby Shakespeare?” Don’t worry, Disney will refund you the full price of any of the “Baby Einstein” videos that didn’t turn your child into a genius — though there is no return policy for the number of hours wasted staring at the television screen.

Disney’s “Baby Einstein” videos reached a peak in popularity in the last few years. A New York Times article references a 2003 study that found that a third of all American babies from 6 months to 2 years old had viewed at least one of these videos. The counterintuitive part, however, is that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no time in front of the television at all for children under two. Perhaps this, combined with the fact that the videos were not found to increase levels of intelligence in children, is why Disney was so willing to refund the retail price of any of the videos.

The discovery that comes along with the refund is more important than the refund itself — putting a young child in front of a television will not make them smarter. I have seen many advertisements that have tried to take teaching young children out of the hands of the parents. I grew up during the “Hooked on Phonics” craze, where the minute a child showed any difficulty reading, the parents would rush out to buy the “Hooked on Phonics” kit that guaranteed such wonderful results. While I’m sure it did work in many cases, I would also bet that parents working with their children would’ve attained the same results.

I don’t have a problem with technology being used in education. I do most of my research for classes on the Internet. But I do have a problem with technology being used to replace what could and should be face-to-face interaction. How did parents miss the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation regarding television time and instead choose to believe the educational claims made by a video that consists of little more than bright colors and puppets?

Parents need to reevaluate their involvement in the lives of their young children. Instead of focusing on their intelligence levels before they have even uttered a single word, parents should focus on spending time with their children. Having high ambitions for your children and wanting them to be the next Mozart or Shakespeare is good, but teaching them that they can learn through experience and not educational videos is even better.