Love Your Kid? Then Turn Off the TV!

Love Your Kid? Then Turn Off the TV!

The New York Times is reporting that the Walt Disney Company is now offering refunds for its Baby Einstein series, which the Times describes as "a tacit admission that they did not increase infant intellect."

Baby Einstein is a local issue for me, because it was debunked by researchers at my very own college, the University of Washington.  Not only were the Baby Einstein videos shown to be bunk, but they actually decreased a baby's vocabulary.  

The Baby Einstein video series was created by Julie Aigner-Clark, a stay at home mom in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.  As far as I can tell, Aigner-Clark had absolutely no qualifications for this whatsoever.  You would expect a background in education or in childhood development, perhaps a teaching certificate, but as far as I can tell Aigner-Clark only has an English Literature degree.  

Nevertheless, she managed to set the parenting world on fire with a video babysitter which promised to entertain your baby while teaching it about math, science, and other cultures.  This despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and of common sense, that children under the age of two should not be exposed to television at all.  

This is puzzling, because according to this Wikipedia article, "49 percent of parents think educational videos like these are very important in the intellectual development of children."  And despite their common sense recommendation, two thirds of infants and toddlers watch an average of 2 hours of television per day.  (Kids between 8 and 18 spend a whopping 4 hours a day watching television.)

In fact, it turns out that if you let the television raise your baby, your baby turns out stupid.  To be specific, the University of Washington researchers found that "for each hour-per-day spent watching baby DVDs/videos, infants understood on average six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them."  The problem with getting this message out is that the television (in the form of Baby Einstein commercials) is telling people the opposite.  And it turns out that people believe television.  Like, a lot.

Researchers at Lehigh University recently published a solid link between watching television and childhood obesity.  Shocking, right?  No way!  But it's true: when your child is watching television, they are not getting exercise.  Instead of exercise, they are getting a bombardment of ads for sugary cereals, fast food, soda, candy, and other delights.

Parents, I think it is clear that it is time to cut the cord!  Why wouldn't you cut your child off from the television?  A child watching television gets no benefits from it, it only harms them.  Raising a child without television means raising a smarter, happier, healthier child, who has seen about one billionth the number of ads compared to their contemporaries.  Yes, they will stand out in school - for not being idiots!

I know the television free life will not be an easy road, but it is clearly the best road for your children.  And when was parenting ever easy, right?  Parenting is about making the best choices for your children, even when they are difficult choices.