Science Magazine: Educational Videos Drain Baby Brains
Posted: 08 August 2007 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]
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http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2007/807/1

“Buyer beware: Videos aimed at improving infant and toddler language skills are not as beneficial for language learning as they claim to be, according to a new study. Rather than helping youngsters, such products may actually hurt their vocabularies.”

Any thoughts, comments, further information?

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Posted: 08 August 2007 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m just as skeptical of the notion that hese kinds of things harm children as that they help them. I’d like to see the details of such a study, well-designed, peer-reviewed, and replicated before I’d panic about such videos. All-in-all, I think as parents we can probably damage kids if we try really hard, but given the basics of a healthy and supportive environment I think we are less critical and influence than we’d like ot think we are.

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Posted: 08 August 2007 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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i cant subscribe from work, but you can subscribe and see the report:

http://journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/ympd

PS: I found the report by searching “baby einstein” and the report by zimmerman was the first listed

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Posted: 08 August 2007 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I registgered but the server is having some kind of trouble and I could only access the abstract. In any case, even the authors conclusion was only that further research is justified, and I certainly would go beyond that. Not that I’m any expert in the area.

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Posted: 08 August 2007 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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well when you read it please share your thoughts. im interested!

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Posted: 08 August 2007 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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when it comes to protecting children, we all become idiots, thinking that there are dangers behind every corner, trying to control their lives as much as possible, in hopes of raising an ideal child. Well, for those parents who bought into the Baby Einstein phenomenon, this will come as a shock.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12560124


Baby Einstein videos are innefective. Another win for science and a loss for products with dubious claims.

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Posted: 08 August 2007 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’m fightfully dubious of this claim.  I mean run it by me again, you did say that a video may actually hurt a babies learning.  Errr…yeah.  Yeah, that’s something that’ll happen.  Show a kid who can’t yet speak English that video and they’ll never achieve their potential. Yeah, that’s something you can measure too.  Oh yes.  All you do is you plug your baby in to a sociolometer before and take a reading, keep every other possible factor the same and get them to watch the video, then take a new reading and subtract the first result from the second.  To verify your results, you could get the baby to take literacy aptitude and IQ tests before and after as well.  And yes, you’d find that the video caused the change.  It’s not rocket science.

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Posted: 09 August 2007 12:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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just listen to the link i posted from NPR. it sounds like the guy did the right stuff. He is not claiming that it makes kids dumber, just less proficient in vocabulary for that age group, and kids eventually catch up to the rest. Most importantly, there is NO improvement, as claimed by the company making the video.

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Posted: 09 August 2007 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I didn’t imagine for a second that there would be any improvement.  I just didn’t imagine that it would have any effect whatsoever.  Babies, as far as I can see require mostly tactile, visual and bodily kinaesthetic stimuli in order to make progress - I would not expect auditory stimulus to make that much of a difference at that developmental stage other than when there is an adult they know mouthing the words carefully at them and trying to get them to repeat and celebrating their success with them.  I can’t imagine a video of any kind either harming or helping a babies education.  It seems an absurd notion - what would be the pathway?

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Posted: 09 August 2007 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Narwhol,
I don’t think there’s any reason to think auditory stimuli are less relevant for infant development than other modalities. Clearly language acquisition is one of the major accomplishments in the first couple of years, and I suspect there is a lot going on a lot sooner than we can evaluate in the normal course of interaction with babies. Even at birth infants show an attentional preference for speech sounds over other sounds. At days to weeks, they prefer phonemes found in the language spoken around them to those found in other languages. And by 9 months their babbling utterances have narrowed to be primarily sounds found in the language they have been exposed to. As for deliberate instruction and reinforcement, that has been shown to have almost no measurable effect on language acquisition. While almost all cultures speak to children in a simplified form of their language, many make no effort to deliberately instruct children in sounds, words, and meaning, and these children acquire their native language at the same rate as those from cultures like ours.

As for the pathway by which a video might help language acquisition, it is essentially the same as that by which watching and hearing adults in the environment does. Passive exposure to language and self-reinforced practice seems sufficient almost by itself to ensure normal language acquisiton. However, the contribution of a video seems, I agree, unlikley to have any meaningful impact either way. I can’t view the entire article since it is limited to subscribers to the print version of the journal, and I’m no sociologist so I’m not familiar with the evaluation tools (MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI)), but I know that much of the data was gathered by telephone survey, and though social scientists will hate me for it, I’m not a big believer in the validity of such tools for behavioral research. Hard to assess the accuracy of self-reporting, lots of effects of how questions are asked, etc. But I guess I can’t say for certain that the results aren’t valid. Still, given the complexity of early childhood development, I wouldn’t be either rushing out to buy the videos or to burn them. I watched several of them with my daughter when she was smaller, and they were entertaining for short periods, but I’m not too worried about how they’ll effect her college admissions chances grin

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Posted: 09 August 2007 07:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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As I was driving home a few minutes ago, a woman who represented some early childhood protection organization was being interviewed on a public radio station.  They have filed a complaint with the FDA about Baby Einstein and two other similar commercial programs requesting that they either publish their research results or be enjoined from advertising that their videos improve intelligence of babies.  The interviewer said the study was done at Washington university, involved 1,000 families and found a correlation such that for each hour of the video the babies watched they had a deficit of six to eight words of vocabulary versus children that related to a parent for the same length of time.  The researcher was quoted as saying that the results were interesting, but further study was needed. 

The companies who produce these videos demurred when asked to participate.

Occam

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Posted: 09 August 2007 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Interesting. The FDA isn’t allowed to regulate lots of things it should (like herbal remedies), so I doubt it has the authority to regulate educational videos. Label claims don’t generally apply to things that are not medical devices or drugs. Now, I suppose some truth in advertising law might be invoked here, but I’m no lawyer. And my shampoo promises “99% softer hair,” yet I can’t seem to find a link to the research study on that! grin

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