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Too Much TV Bad for Kids - Disney Disagrees

by August 16, 2007
Disney Says TV Good for Baby Despite Reports

Disney Says TV Good for Baby Despite Reports

The Walt Disney Company and its subsidiary, The Baby Einstein Company, have taken umbrage at a recent University of Washington study on the developmental effect of educational videos on early childhood development of language skills and have demanded a retraction.

Disney Demands Retraction of Baby Einstein Study

"Genius" Videos may Hinder Development: Study

UW Office of News and Information: Baby DVD's may Hinder, not Help, Infants' Language Development

Disney president Bob Iger demanded retraction in a letter to the University president Mark Emert based on his personal views about the studies lack of reliability. The letter comes after Disney noticed an effect on sales of Baby Einstein videos.

The study “Associations Between Media Viewing and Language Development in Children Under

Age 2 Years.” was published on August 7, 2007 in the Journal of Pediatrics, authored by Dr. Dimitri Christakis, UW professor of pediatrics and pediatrics researcher at Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute, and Andrew Meltzoff, co-director of the UW's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. The study focused media content divided into four groups:

  • Baby DVDs and videos such as "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby"
  • Educational TV programs, DVDs and videos such as "Sesame Street,” "Arthur" and "Blue's Clues"
  • Children's non-educational television shows and movies such as "Sponge Bob Square Pants," "Bob the Builder" and "Toy Story"
  • Adult television such as "The Simpsons," "Oprah," and sports programming

The study was conducted by random telephone interview of over 1000 families where parents were asked about viewing, what words their children understood from a standard list of 90 words, and about how often parents read or told stories to their children.

Conclusions of the study suggest that the vocabulary development of young children from 8-16 months was hindered by spending too much time with the videos rather than in the care of their parents. Children in this age range were found to understand six to eight fewer words on average for every hour of viewing when comparison was made to children who did not watch these types of videos. Older children from 17-24 months showed no positive or negative trend viewing baby DVD’s and neither group found effects related to viewing educational, non-educational media or adult television programs. The study also supported previous findings that daily reading and story telling were associated with increased language skills.

"The results surprised us, but they make sense. There are only a fixed number of hours that young babies are awake and alert. If the ‘alert time' is spent in front of DVDs and TV instead of with people speaking in ‘parentese' -- that melodic speech we use with little ones -- the babies are not getting the same linguistic experience,"

"Parents and caretakers are the baby's first and best teachers. They instinctively adjust their speech, eye gaze and social signals to support language acquisition. Watching attention-getting DVDs and TV may not be an even swap for warm social human interaction at this very young age. Old kids may be different, but the youngest babies seem to learn language best from people,"

Andrew Meltzoff, Job and Gertrud Tamaki Chair in Psychology, UW

"In my clinical practice, I am frequently asked by parents what the value of these products is. The evidence is mounting that they are of no value and may in fact be harmful. Given what we now know, I believe the onus is on the manufacturers to prove their claims that watching these programs can positively impact children's cognitive development."

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, Professor of Pediatrics, UW

Researcher believe the differences with baby DVD’s verses other media and human interaction may stem from differences in the content. Often the content of baby DVD’s offer very little dialogue, short and disjointed scenes, and images that are linguistically difficult to describe.

The study is based on correlational methods commonly used in researching developmental psychology of children rather than experimental design so direct causality can not be determined. The study appears to acknowledge this limitation and suggests more research is required before definite conclusions can be made.

Developmental Psychology: Child Research Methods

Correlation

Bob Iger, in his letter, blathers on about his assessment of the study and what he feels is wrong with it, in particular that the study did not look at “Baby Einstein’ specifically, because they are of course better than the competitors’ products.

It is widely held by many experts in child development that television viewing by children, in general, is of limited benefit and should be minimized and not allowed to significantly replace parental interaction and play.

Child Development Institute: Television and Children

With a bachelor's of arts in television production, Robert Iger has no scientific credentials what so ever with which to make any meaningful criticism of post doctoral research but with a pending bonus of $15 million on top of his $2 million salary, he certainly does want to avoid any publicity that might negatively affect sales and his bonus; even if it is at the expense of children.

Remember, young children will always be better off learning from interaction with their parents rather than being plopped down in front of a TV, no matter what Bob Iger says or the content consists of.

About the author:

Professionally, David engineers building structures. He is also a musician and audio enthusiast. David gives his perspective about loudspeakers and complex audio topics from his mechanical engineering and HAA Certified Level I training.

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Recent Forum Posts:

lsiberian posts on September 27, 2009 21:40
belladigiro, post: 628591
“THE WICKED STEPMOTHER/STEPFATHER OR THE DAD WHO IS TRYING TO PROTECT HIS DAUGHTER AND SHE RAN WITH AN OLDER MAN”
I don't like certain Disney Movie because they make children believe that Step parents are EVIL , Witches and Bad People.
Take a look they make stepmother looks evil, jelaous, wicked and ambicious so kids in real life don't want to accept the step-parent as another member of the family Disney already put in their mind step parents are bad persons.

Same with a Father Discipline so that his daughter doesn't run away with a MAN. Like Ariel the little mermaid reveled against her dad to run away after an older man the Prince. Yuk and What about Nemo another run away kid.
So ridiculous to me I don't like this movies make to raise up spoil bratt without feelings for others, not matter how much you sacrifice for a child that is not even yours, they won't appreciate you because of this Disney Crab they make.


Who is with me?

A lot of Kids go through crazy crap from step parents and Fathers. Let's not pretend the world is perfect. It's really not.
lsiberian posts on September 27, 2009 21:38
I grew up with Disney and love TV I think I'm fine, but maybe I'm just too brainwashed to know better.
MatthewB. posts on September 27, 2009 20:55
As a a child I grew up on Road Runner-Coyote cartoons, so now as an adult living in AZ, everytime I see a roadrunner, the urge to grab for an ACME rocket is overwhelming at times.

I also blame H.R. Pufnstuff and Scooby Doo for my teenage years pot habit.

My love of Martial Arts on Hong Kong Phooey

and my love of booze today on grwoing up in the 70's and 80's watching shows like Speed Buggy and Land of the Lost.


The urge to bong through wine is overwhelmin, please make it stop.
pzaur posts on September 27, 2009 01:01
belladigiro, post: 628591
“THE WICKED STEPMOTHER/STEPFATHER OR THE DAD WHO IS TRYING TO PROTECT HIS DAUGHTER AND SHE RAN WITH AN OLDER MAN”
I don't like certain Disney Movie because they make children believe that Step parents are EVIL , Witches and Bad People.
Take a look they make stepmother looks evil, jelaous, wicked and ambicious so kids in real life don't want to accept the step-parent as another member of the family Disney already put in their mind step parents are bad persons.

Same with a Father Discipline so that his daughter doesn't run away with a MAN. Like Ariel the little mermaid reveled against her dad to run away after an older man the Prince. Yuk and What about Nemo another run away kid.
So ridiculous to me I don't like this movies make to raise up spoil bratt without feelings for others, not matter how much you sacrifice for a child that is not even yours, they won't appreciate you because of this Disney Crab they make.


Who is with me?

Ummm…maybe you could try to actually parent and not rely on movies?

Again, WTF?!

-pat
Matt34 posts on September 26, 2009 20:09
belladigiro, post: 628591
“THE WICKED STEPMOTHER/STEPFATHER OR THE DAD WHO IS TRYING TO PROTECT HIS DAUGHTER AND SHE RAN WITH AN OLDER MAN”
I don't like certain Disney Movie because they make children believe that Step parents are EVIL , Witches and Bad People.
Take a look they make stepmother looks evil, jelaous, wicked and ambicious so kids in real life don't want to accept the step-parent as another member of the family Disney already put in their mind step parents are bad persons.

Same with a Father Discipline so that his daughter doesn't run away with a MAN. Like Ariel the little mermaid reveled against her dad to run away after an older man the Prince. Yuk and What about Nemo another run away kid.
So ridiculous to me I don't like this movies make to raise up spoil bratt without feelings for others, not matter how much you sacrifice for a child that is not even yours, they won't appreciate you because of this Disney Crab they make.


Who is with me?

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