Tuned In

Dept. of Misnomers: "Reality TV," Meet "Educational Baby Videos"

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A new study from the University of Washington has found that, shockingly, you cannot buy a future Ivy League acceptance for your child for the price of a $15.99 DVD. The researchers found that videos like those in the Baby Einstein series not only don’t advance language development, they may impede it. My colleague Alice Park has beat me to the story, but that won’t stop me from piggybacking on her article.

As a TV critic and parent I get asked about this sort of issue a lot, but I try to resist the temptation to pretend that writing sitcom reviews makes me a medical authority. Is TV bad for babies? Sure. If you drop one on them, for instance. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you.

Having read enough conflicting arguments, I’m a little skeptical of claims that watching TV is disastrous for babies and kids, and a lot skeptical of claims that watching TV is improving for them. Tuned In Jr. and Tuned In Jr. Jr. watched Baby Einstein videos, among others, not because we believed they’d end up smarter but because of their amazing mesmeric powers. If anything, they now have too much damn language ability, much like their father.

But, YMMV, moderation and all that. It’s probably safe to assume that, whatever you use to get you through the long, long day, the best parent for a baby doesn’t plug into a wall. It hardly takes an Einstein, baby or otherwise, to figure that out.

I know we have some parents in the Tuned In audience–what’s your position on baby hypnotizers?