Growing up with 3 younger brothers, I’ve seen how they have grown up and matured into very cute and mature boys. I also saw how they were raised as babies. From the food they ate, to the clothes they wore, to the activities we all did together, I just about know it all.
One of the most popular activities my littlest brother, Sam, liked to do was watch Baby Einstein. If you don’t know what that is I’ll attach a short clip here. My brothers did enjoy these videos, I assume mostly for the entertainment purposes. However, there are some families that play videos like theses for their infants with the goal of improving language skills and IQ, essentially as an educational tool.
In a study conducted by Child-Psych, they found that children who watch the educational videos at a more developed age (closer to 2 years old) were not likely to be effected in any way (positive or negative). However, for children who are younger, they may actually learn less words by watching the videos. Pretty strange since the goal is to encourage educational growth. However, there are other key components that can be put into play here with the regard to the lesser amounts of learned language from the video. Once , is that while children watch videos, they are not interacting socially or verbally with their parents. So according to Child-Psych, they loose the body language association that goes with verbal communication.
In a New York Times article, there are similar findings after a similar experiment. The journalist writing the article may not see dramatic changes in her child’s language development, she does feel that videos like Baby Einstein are a good use of time for her child while she is completing necessary tasks around the house. It seems a practical solution for busy mothers who just need a break, or just a shower after a long day, since the video is not deteriorating from her child’s education.
On the Baby Einstein website, they feature categories that they specialize in for education such as, Language, Music, Art, and Nature. They are all described as rich experience in an interactive program for learning. They describe their company as an experience that will allow parents to fulfill the need of their curious children.
Mayo Clinic did research on this claim, finding that there is no significant improvement in a child’s language after watching there films. Children ages 1-2 who watch these videos are missing out on key life experiences such as playing outside, playing with other babies, and talking and singing with their families. They are seeing images and hearing music from a screen, but they cannot absorb it as well as they could real life music or conversations.