May 3, 2006

Lawsuit: Videos Make Babies Neither Brainy Nor Einstein

baby_einsteinhead.jpgA group with a lot of work ahead of it, The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, has filed a complaint with the FTC which seeks to stop Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby from making any actual educational or developmental claims about their baby videos. They're also seeking to require the videos to carry a cigarette-style warning label containing the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation that children should not watch television before the age of 2.

The companies' response: It's not television, it's videos. Seriously.

"Dennis Fedoruk, the founder and president of Brainy Baby, said the company does not make any educational claims and 'does not promise parents their children will be Harvard graduates.'" Just that they'll get in.

Videomakers Baby Couch Potato! and Mommy Needz A Break, LLC are not mentioned in the lawsuit.

Group Sues Video Firms On Tot-Learning Claims [washpost.com via tmn]
Image: from an ad for Baby Einstein Shampoo. No, I kid. It's from the nice adoption blog, Smirnoff The Chinese Baby.

5 Comments

That's just great... attack the lesser of two evils. In this corner there is the Purple Dinosaur and in this corner we have Classical music with some cheap toys.

So if I have a classical CD playing while the kid is playing with real toys then he's not learning? Who Knew? I guess then it's community college for him in 16 years, at least I can save my money and buy that new Video iPod I saw the commerical for the other day on TV.

[I hope your kid did not see that commercial at his tender age. bad parent. on the bright side, you just saved $500,000 in Ivy tuition. Why not get yourself something nice to celebrate? -ed.]

So, as a first-time daddy, I was in line at Buy Buy Baby and in my fatigue succumbed and made an imulse Baby Einstein purchase -- a Mozart dvd. Big mistake. The soundtrack was elevator-music snippets of Mozart tunes; the images insipid; the whole thing somewhat idiotic, and I speak as a Harvard grad. For due diligence, I did give it a try with the child: in a true demonstration of natural intelligence unencumbered by marketing or education, he showed absolutely no interest whatsoever. The DOG, however, loved it, absolutely loved it. Never seen anything else like it, he's not a TV dog, but the Einstein dvd got his tail madly wagging -- he was sniffing and licking the screen, whining for us to play it again... Makes one think, although probably not the way the dvd creators envisioned.

[lolol, awesome, thanks for taking a bullet for the rest of us. I've heard more than one actual classical music fan complain about what BE does to/with music. Give me the Rhapsody in Rivets over Einstein any day of the week. -ed.]

First of all, my 13 month old really likes the Baby Einstein videos. from about 7 months till present we've used them to keep her occupied while we go have a few minutes of down time.

I would like to point out that my wife and I both take it a step beyond the passive "video babysitter" and say, "Oooh! Look at the ..." She's been identifying things for months now, partially because of those videos.

The music isn't symphony quality but it's cute and not over simplified. I don't know if a baby would appreciate classical music recorded live or if synthesized instruments are better. All I know is it's way better than a lot of the crap that gets passed off as children's music.

I see her outgrowing them before she turns two though. None the less, they have served their purpose. I've been trying to segue her to things more my speed though - today we were watching MotorWeek while I was getting ready for work.

My kid might quack at the ducks on the videos while we're home but she also quacks at ducks in real life when we're out. And chickens too, on occasion.

Quack quack!

Yes, there is no doubt that the Baby Einstein videos are visually stimulating for infants, but there has been some concern recently that the rapidly changing images in these videos may cause the development of short attention spans. Also, the baby will learn to be soothed and comforted by sitting idly staring at the tube. No one made it into Harvard spending all day doing that. If you really want to help your baby's development, read to her; language skills and parental bonding, all in one go.

this lawsuit is nonsense. why waste your time and energy fighting - god forbid - quality video programs for children? goodness gracious. we let our 1-yr old daughter watch baby einstein videos on a rainy day or whenever she asks. she sits and is enthralled through the entire video. the music is intelligent, the toys and images shown are realistic, and when the movie is over we can talk about what she saw and apply it in our daily activity.
give it up! ask your mama, i bet you were glued to sesame street when you were a kid and no one blamed big bird when your harvard app came back with "we regret to inform you..."

[I'm sure by "your" and "you" you mean the childhood development people actually filing the FTC complaint. As for me, it was only after 10 years of recovered memory therapy that I realized Big Bird was to blame for my not getting into Harvard. Big Bird, and my not applying. -ed.]

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