Do Educational DVDs Make Babies Blockheads?
DVDs and TV programs purported to make infants smarter just by watching may be
having the exact opposite effect, according to researchers at the University of
Washington. Interviews of more than 1,000 parents revealed that the more
so-called educational programs and videos a child watched, the fewer words he or
she knew or used.
Parents who have eagerly sat their infants in front of TVs
playing DVDs and TV shows designed to boost their intelligence may want to
rethink their plans, according to a recent study published in the Journal of
Pediatrics. The so-called education DVDs and shows aimed at babies ages 8 to
16 months that purportedly make them smarter could cause them to lose language
skills, according to researchers.
"It is definitely in line with what the American Academy of Pediatrics has
been saying since our policy statement was released in 1999, which says we
discourage all screen time for children under the age of two," Dr. Ari Brown, an
American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson, told TechNewsWorld. "The reason why
is, A, we don't see it being beneficial, and B, it may be detrimental."
The study is the beginning of a larger project to gauge the effects of
viewing media during the first few years of life.
Dumb and Dumber
The team of researchers from the University of Washington conducted telephone
interviews in February of 2006 with 1,008 parents of children between the ages 2
months and 2 years of age. The parents were asked how much time their child
spent watching various children's programming and videos targeting infants, as
well as how often the parents read or told stories to their children. They were
also asked how many words out of a list of 90, such as "choo choo," "mommy," and
"nose," their child knew or was using.
The results showed that, among infants between 8 months and 16 months, for
each hour of viewing the baby DVDs, videos and other programming, the child lost
an average of six to eight words compared to infants who did not watch them.
"Babies watching an hour or more of TV or DVDs, compared to kids who aren't,
do have fewer vocabulary words," Brown said. "This is the first study to say,
'This may be detrimental and here's one of the things we see.'"
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