tvSmarter – Life in a TV Nation

Baby Einstein Refunds


Congratulations to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) !

Note: for a list of studies looking at the effects of TV on very young children see:

CCFC successfully pressured “the Walt Disney Company to offer a full refund to anyone who purchased a Baby Einstein DVD in the last five years.”

This is in addition to their “2006 Federal Trade Commission complaint” which forced Disney to stop making false claims that Baby Einstein DVDs were educational.

From The New York Times article on the Baby Einstein Refunds:

Last year, lawyers threatened a class-action lawsuit for unfair and deceptive practices unless Disney agreed to refund the full purchase price to all who bought the videos since 2004. “The Walt Disney Company’s entire Baby Einstein marketing regime is based on express and implied claims that their videos are educational and beneficial for early childhood development,” a letter from the lawyers said, calling those claims “false because research shows that television viewing is potentially harmful for very young children.”

Perhaps “Baby Einstein” should be renamed “Baby Bozo” !

But it was the comments that were the most fun, here are a few that I especially liked:

I watched some of these videos with my grandson. All it teaches is how to watch television.

Einstein did not watch TV as a child. Neither did he play video games or text anyone. He played outdoors and did a lot of hiking in the mountains. So if parents want little Einsteins, maybe they should take away the TV, the cell phones and the video games and tell their kids to go take a hike.

There’s been evidence that these videos actually inhibit mental development. Studies also suggest that face to face interaction between a baby and a live person is far more beneficial. A parent’s reaction to a baby’s noises or attempts at speech is where the true benefit for linguistic development lies.

Make them offer refunds on all Disney productions that decreased intellect. No shortage of those.

For years I’ve also heard that putting any child under 2 in front of the tv can harm their later ability to concentrate and learn. I’m wondering, did the Baby Einstein videos not just not help – but possibly have harmed – the babies who watched them?

Fantastic news. I’ve been angry about those video’s for years already. I hope this is the start of recognition for the fact that tv does not make children (of any age) smarter. Children learn by playing, by interacting with the world and by imitating adults.

Folks, the fact that your child watched these videos and is now well-adjusted and above average means nothing. The evidence says that they would have been well-adjusted and above average without the videos as well – and that the only effect was that you very slightly increased their chances of having attention problems later in like. Anecdotal evidence is pointless here – in general, kids shouldn’t watch TV before age 2. Period. If your kid is doing well, great! Odds are, they’d be doing just a little bit better without the videos.
People managed to raise their children (and even bathe) 50 years ago without everpresent TV. Work a little less, buy less junk, and spend more time with your kids. It’s not impossible.

Remember when George W. Bush praised the founder of Baby Einstein at one of his State of the Union speeches? Just like “the ownership society” where everyone can get a mortgage or “being greeted like liberators”, is there anything he said or did that didn’t seem to get seriously questioned in the end?

See also:

2 thoughts on “Baby Einstein Refunds

  1. The Zizkov television tower in Prague provides an excellent example of Einstein’s television babies.

    Just look up or Google “Zizkov” tower or world’s ugliest buildings. This building is designed with naked bronze babies crawling up the sides of a television tower that dominates the skyline in Prague, Czech Republic. (Thankfully it’s despised by the locals.)

    While Einstein spins in his grave Disney gleefully rubs his hands together; assimilation is nearly complete as the beacon pulls the babies skyward.

    Kelsey B


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