Thursday, November 05, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Baby Einstein

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

There are days when I am truly puzzled by the thinking of my fellow human beings. Days when I look at some of the rest of us (certainly not you dear listener) and wonder just what they are using for brains. For example we have the current flap over the Baby Einstein videos and their effect on our children.

If you haven't heard the wonderful folks at Disney, the parent company for the Baby Einstein people, are offering a refund if you bought any of the Baby Einstein DVDs between June of 2004 and September of this year. Seems some folks felt that the DVDs didn't live up to the advertising claims that watching them would make our children smarter.

Watching DVDs to make your kids smarter. You must be joking.

Actually no. A lot of this problem rose out of a recent study from the University of Washington that said that kids who watch videos have smaller vocabularies and they develop their vocabularies slower than kids who don't watch. Which has set some child raising pundits up on their high horses about kids and TV and all the usual hysteria that seems to go along with it. What happens is that people don't bother paying attention and leap to conclusions without any basis. The study doesn't say the kids never catch up, in fact it appears that most of them do. It just says that their development is delayed by watching the videos. Which is not surprising since other studies show that what benefits kids speech development is actually interacting with real people. You know, like their parents.

I know why most parents plop their kids down in front of the boob tube. It's just to get a break so you can get something else done! We did it in my house and my daughter is a Dean's List student at a very nice catholic university. The real problem is parents who think they can leave their kids in front of the TV and abdicate their parental responsibilities to Baby Einstein or Mr Rogers or Dora the Explorer. The best learning experience a child can have is with their parents. Parents who interact with them, talk to them, read to them.

Thinking that watching a DVD is going to make your kid smarter is just dumb. Expecting a company to pay you a refund because you're dumb is even dumber. The media can do a lot of great things in our lives. Take a parent's place isn't one of them.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

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