[xmca] DVD's and infants

From: Phil Chappell <philchappell who-is-at mac.com>
Date: Tue Aug 14 2007 - 15:09:17 PDT

Interesting study with some unsurprising results? These statistics
are startling:

"Christakis and his colleagues found that by three months, 40% of
babies are regular viewers of DVDs, videos or television; by the time
they are two years old, almost 90% are spending two to three hours each
day in front of a screen."



Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All

The claim always seemed too good to be true: park your infant in front
of a video and, in no time, he or she will be talking and getting
smarter than the neighbor's kid. In the latest study on the effects of
popular videos such as the "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby" series,
researchers find that these products may be doing more harm than good.
And they may actually delay language development in toddlers.

Led by Frederick Zimmerman and Dr. Dimitri Christakis, both at the
University of Washington, the research team found that with every hour
per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to
eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the
videos. These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8
to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form.
"The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew," says
Christakis. "These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than
infants who had not watched these videos."

It's not the first blow to baby videos, and likely won't be the last.
Mounting evidence suggests that passive screen sucking not only doesn't
help children learn, but could also set back their development. Last
spring, Christakis and his colleagues found that by three months, 40% of
babies are regular viewers of DVDs, videos or television; by the time
they are two years old, almost 90% are spending two to three hours each
day in front of a screen. Three studies have shown that watching
television, even if it includes educational programming such as Sesame
Street, delays language development. "Babies require face-to-face
interaction to learn," says Dr. Vic Strasburger, professor of pediatrics
at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and a spokesperson
for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "They don't get that interaction
from watching TV or videos. In fact, the watching probably interferes
with the crucial wiring being laid down in their brains during early
development." Previous studies have shown, for example, that babies
learn faster and better from a native speaker of a language when they
are interacting with that speaker instead of watching the same speaker
talk on a video screen. "Even watching a live person speak to you via
television is not the same thing as having that person in front of you,"
says Christakis.

This growing evidence led the Academy to issue its recommendation in
1999 that no child under two years old watch any television. The authors
of the new study might suggest reading instead: children who got daily
reading or storytelling time with their parents showed a slight increase
in language skills.

Though the popular baby videos and DVDs in the Washington study were
designed to stimulate infants' brains, not necessarily to promote
language development, parents generally assume that the products'
promises to make their babies smarter include improvement of speaking
skills. But, says Christakis, "the majority of the videos don't try to
promote language; they have rapid scene changes and quick edits, and no
appearance of the 'parent-ese' type of speaking that parents use when
talking to their babies."

As far as Christakis and his colleagues can determine, the only thing
that baby videos are doing is producing a generation of overstimulated
kids. "There is an assumption that stimulation is good, so more is
better," he says. "But that's not true; there is such a thing as
overstimulation." His group has found that the more television children
watch, the shorter their attention spans later in life. "Their minds
come to expect a high level of stimulation, and view that as normal,"
says Christakis, "and by comparison, reality is boring."

He and other experts worry that the proliferation of these products will
continue to displace the one thing that babies need in the first months
of life --- face time with human beings. "Every interaction with your
child is meaningful," says Christakis. "Time is precious in those early
years, and the newborn is watching you, and learning from everything you
do." So just talk to them; they're listening.
xmca mailing list
Received on Tue Aug 14 15:10 PDT 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Oct 08 2007 - 06:02:23 PDT