Monday, August 13, 2007

In Defense of Baby Einstein

There has been a lot of bashing of Baby Einstein lately, notably in Time and NPR, and I'd just like to put my 2 cents into the discussion. 

This researcher finds that language development is actually worse in children watching Baby Einstein for more than one hour a day. Well of course you would find that, because there is no language in Baby Einstein, with exception of some foreign languages in the original Baby Einstein (Language Nursery) and a few words and poems in Baby Shakespeare. The rest of the videos only have classical music and images of puppets, toys, children and animals. But they make it seem as though language development is the only measure of a child's intelligence just to suit their hypothesis. How about when Adam heard one of the songs from Baby Mozart in the car and then said "fish" because that is the scene which went with that music in the video. He was making remarkable connections for an 18-month-old. Is that not a sign of intelligence directly related to this video (or perhaps mom put it on too times?). 

 The majority of parents do NOT buy these videos in efforts to create geniuses. We parents are not that stupid and know a marketing ploy when we see one! The videos are used so that kids can have a safe, non-threatening diversion while parents take selfish time for themselves to take showers and prepare meals. Trust me, Adam loved these videos since birth, but Dova didn't like them until she turned one, so I took many less showers when she was a baby. Videos in our family are never used to replace one-on-one interaction and reading time, and only used to save our sanity when everyone needs some down time. 

Then there is the argument that parents managed to have children for millenias without these videos during meal preparation. I point to the fact that most child poisonings occur just before meal time, when the child is hungry and under reduced supervision. Parents are distracted because they are busy trying to prepare meals, and the kids end up eating something preposturous and often poisonous. It is much safer to put kids in front of a video to distract them from their hunger for a few minutes. It is also healthier than giving them snacks that will ruin their dinner appetites. Although this wouldn't be a good marketing technique (Buy This Video, Prevents Child Poisoning!), where are the studies that track child poisonings since the advent of videos? 

And the part where he says that parents don't enjoy these videos is baloney. Baby Einstein are the ONLY children's videos that I enjoy watching with the kids over and over. I admit that I don't always watch the videos together with them, but I do watch them together on occasion and enjoy the classical music and beautiful images (I love shiny things after all). The music has also prompted me to learn several new classical piano pieces which delight my children when they hear it outside the context of Baby Einstein. In terms of other children's videos and programs, Elmo and Teletubbies are the only other ones that I like. I can't stand Barney (those smiling kids must be drugged or possessed), and want to smack Dora when she stares at you blankly waiting for a response. 

There is one last thing that I have found amazing with the Baby Einstein videos. When the kids would have total meltdowns, where nothing would console them, Baby Einstein would be the only thing that could get them out of their funk. We would try holding, rocking, talking softly and leaving them alone, and they would simply kick, punch, thrash and scream louder and louder. If we put on a Baby Einstein video, they would continue for a few more minutes, and then succumb to the soothing images and music. It is quite an effective tranquilizer!


Anonymous said...

Oh that made me think of a song off one of the favorite childhood albums, Larry Thor's Galloping On My Dinosaur.

The TV Song {link even includes a downloadable mp3}

:::The purpose of the childhood television
Is not to entertain as you suggest
The purpose of the childhood television
Is to give poor Mother a rest:::

Anonymous said...

I agree with The TV song. If parents spend enough time with their children, I believe that childhood television doesn't have anything to do with our children's speech deficiency.

Anonymous said...

I believe that a child's language development is dependent on the how often parents and other people spend time talking with their children. If those tv programs are the only time parents can take a break from parenting, then it's completely irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you!

Anonymous said...

My son did not talk until he was almost 2 years old. He was the most talked to, held up, stimulated by nature and educational toys child ever raised. However, he walked at six months. Children have different learning styles.

Here from BC carnival.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you - I did not buy Einstein videos for brain development. They gave me 15-20 minutes peace of mind per day when I really needed a break. (and I knew my kids were better off watching these than something insidious that was on regular tv!)

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why you can't take a shower when your baby is asleep. I have an 8 month old, and she was incredible fussy for the first three months of life, yet I always managed to shower. I think that these videos are a complete cop-out for parents that need time to themselves, and the 3-4 hours a day that their baby is asleep is just not sufficient. It's a bunch of hooey.

Angela said...

When you have more than one child, they never nap at the same time unless you give them tranquilizers. And if you do manage to get them to nap at the same time, you are so exhausted, that you need rest over shower. Obviously part of the reason that I was able to shower with my first baby is because there was actually time when all the children in the house were asleep.

And if you're so smart, don't hide behind an anonymous comment.