Despite marketing claims, parents who want to give their infants a boost in learning language probably should limit the amount of time they expose their children to DVDs and videos such as "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby."I never used the Baby Einstein stuff. I am not surprised that studies would show them to be worthless. But I don't think that it follows that all TV is harmful at this age. My guess is that an hour or so of the right TV shows could be beneficial to one-year-olds.
Rather than helping babies, the over-use of such productions actually may slow down infants eight to 16 months of age when it comes to acquiring vocabulary, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute.
The scientists found that for every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants understood an average of six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them. Baby DVDs and videos had no positive or negative effect on the vocabularies on toddlers 17 to 24 months of age. The study was published today in the Journal of Pediatrics.
"The most important fact to come from this study is there is no clear evidence of a benefit coming from baby DVDs and videos and there is some suggestion of harm," said Frederick Zimmerman, lead author of the study and a UW associate professor of health services. "The bottom line is the more a child watches baby DVDs and videos the bigger the effect. The amount of viewing does matter."
Co-authors of the study are Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrics researcher at Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute and a UW professor of pediatrics, and Andrew Meltzoff, co-director of the UW's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.
The paper is part of a larger project looking at the trajectory of media viewing in the first two years of life and examining the content of what is being watched and its effects on young children. A paper published last spring by the same researchers showed that by 3 months of age 40 percent of infants are regular viewers of television, DVDs or videos and by the age of 2 this number jumps to 90 percent.
For both papers, the researchers conducted random telephone interviews with more than 1,000 families in Minnesota and Washington with a child born in the previous two years. Television, DVD and video viewing were divided into four categories: baby DVDs and videos; educational TV programs, DVDs and videos such as "Sesame Street, "Arthur" and "Blue's Clues"; children's non-educational television shows and movies such as "Sponge Bob Square Pants," "Bob the Builder" and "Toy Story," and adult television such as "The Simpsons," "Oprah," and sports programming.
The researchers found no positive or negative effects on infants of either age group from viewing educational and non-educational media or adult television programs.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Baby videos may hinder infant language development
Univ of Wash. research: