Baby Einstein Videos 'Like Crack for Babies', but Kids Don't Learn From Them
Though hailed as a wonder drug of sorts by devoted parents, Baby Einstein and other educational DVDs may more accurately be, as one mother describes them, "like crack" for your baby.
A study slated to be published online in Psychological Science this month reports that toddlers learn virtually nothing from these educational DVDs -- touted as aides to help boost vocabulary and launch kids on the road to academic superstardom, according to Science News.
Researchers studied the effects of the videos on four groups of toddlers, ages 12-18 months, and determined that those who viewed an educational DVD regularly for one month -- either with or without a parent -- showed no greater understanding of words from the video than kids who never saw it, Science News reports.
"The degree to which babies actually learn from baby videos is negligible," writes psychologist and study director Judy DeLoache of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
In actuality, the children who learned the most words -- about half of the 25 that were in the video -- were those who never saw the video, but whose parents taught them the words in their own way. According to Time, researchers say that's because children naturally learn vocabulary words through "meaningful gestures and interactive communication with parents" -- things they just can't get from watching a video screen.
The study found that parents who initially liked the DVD erroneously thought their children learned many words by watching it; but the researchers offer that parents can mistakenly assume these videos "prompt the spike in word learning that naturally occurs between 12 and 24 months of age," reports Science News.
DeLoache notes that parents often included descriptions of their children's intense DVD-viewing habits in logs they kept during the study. This may partly explain why parents who are proponents of these types of videos claim their toddlers learn a lot from them, psychologist Roberta Golinkoff, of the University of Delaware in Newark, suggests to Science News.
"Kids can look so rapt when they watch these videos that parents may think that attention equals learning, when clearly it does not," she says.
Related: Refund: Disney Offers Money Back for Baby Einstein Videos
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.