Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006
FTC Complaint Filed Against Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to prohibit the Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby video companies "from making claims about the educational and developmental benefits of their videos and require that advertisements, packaging and websites for all baby videos prominently display the American Academy of Pediatricsâ€™ (AAP) recommendation of no screen time for children under two."
The applicable portion of the AAP policy statement reads:
"Pediatricians should urge parents to avoid television viewing for children under the age of 2 years. Although certain television programs may be promoted to this age group, research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers (eg, child care providers) for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Therefore, exposing such young children to television programs should be discouraged."
I own a Baby Einstein 5 CD set of (simplified cover versions of) classical music and can’t say it impacted Little Miss one way or the other. I didn’t enjoy the tunes though, preferring to play classical music actually performed by an orchestra. (Hint: listen to Beethoven’s Wig.) Whoever came up with the product name "Baby Einstein" is a genius. Not knowing anything else, don’t you want to buy a product for your child branded with the name Baby Einstein?
Guardian news article: Baby-learning videos lack educational value, say American psychologists (May 2006).
CCFC News Release: Parents deserve honest information about baby videos (May 2006).
AAP news release: AAP discourages television for very young children (August 1999).
AAP policy statement: Media education (long document, August 1999).
Kaiser Family Foundation report: A Teacher in the Living Room? Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers,
and Preschoolers (December 2005). The report is a PDF linked on the page. It’s an in-depth look at many aspects of the issue.
I did find this interesting quote in a news release from Baby Einstein touting (?) the increasing role electronic media plays in young lives.
â€œThere is nothing more important than parents and caregivers spending time with their little ones,â€ continued [Russell Hampton, Senior Vice President and General Manager]. â€œBaby Einstein videos are created for parents and children to enjoy together as little ones continue their journey of discovery.â€
OK, but how many parents watch videos with their toddlers versus use the TV as a babysitter?