Of “educational” videos and babies

I must admit that my 20 month old son learned his ABCs from the alphabet playlist at youtube. I suspect that he might have learned it earlier. If you quiz him the ABCs (and 1 to 10 now), he can correctly identify each capital letters and numbers 1 to 10. Instead of being pleased, I am a bit worried. He should be learning his alphabet from me and not from some electronic media.   I also admit that in order to quiet him down while he climbs up my lap (while I am doing my freelance work in the computer) and also to prevent him from pulling out the keys in the computer, I let him view the alphabet and number songs. These are short intervals in the morning followed by actual play with his ‘real’ toys. I am writing about this because I have since stopped using the marketed ‘educational’ videos claiming to make your babies ‘brainy’ or become another ‘einstein.’ Danielle was treated to a dose of these videos when she was a about 6 months to a year and a half until Grace prompted me of an article questioning the effectiveness of these videos.

Today, I made some research if there are journal articles on the topic. One particular article published by the Journal of Pediatrics on 2007 studying the association between media viewing and language development of babies under two years old caught my attention. The article says that there is a strong association between media viewing  of baby dvds/videos and a decrease in MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI) scores among children under two years old. These children were  exposed to an average of one hour media viewing. This means that generally, if very young children are exposed to early viewing of even educational dvds, this  would result to poor language development.

It should be noted that the study is not entirely conclusive and more research should be done on the topic. However, I think this is good information  for parents of very young kids like me. Results of the study indirectly emphasizes our role as parents to personally teach them and not heavily rely their learning on educational dvds.

I have long ago let go of Danielle’s baby videos and have not exposed josh to any of them (except for the internet). But I also do not believe that we should totally rule them out in our children’s lives. I think a little exposure would do but not too much and only when it’s supervised. To practice what I believe, I am now limiting Josh’s viewing of the alphabet online. Instead, we repeat the letters almost every morning using the alphabet books of Danielle.

How about you, do you think that we should not patronize the educational dvds? Why or why not?


Photo courtesy: baby images (for illustration purposes only)


8 thoughts on “Of “educational” videos and babies

  1. First of all, congratulations! You know how to do linking already! 😀

    I think that letting our kids watch TV or any form of media (online like in the internet) is not good if done in long hours. Some pediatricians would even suggest not exposing children to TV until they are two years old.

    My take is that, watching TV’s and the internet, while it IS entertaining as well as educational, it IS one way. There is no interaction or communication from the side of the viewer. The kid will just use his eyes and process the information using his brain but there is no STIMULATION to talk, to ask questions, to touch…this is why we have been TV-free for more than 3 years now. (We let our daughter watch DVD’s though but we watch it together)

    1. Hello grace! hehehe, lagi finally. Thanks for all your help. Unsaon, bright man gud ko aning technical stuffs! hehe.

      Exactly, learning is not as interactive as it should be when they watch the dvds. However, I’m at the middle on the educational dvds “helping” us teach our kids. I would allow it if I’m around and only for a number of minutes. In the meantime, one of the benefits I see from letting danielle and josh watch nursery songs from the dvds is that they get the tune correctly. Had I taught them personally, daghan nami yabag.

  2. Good morning 🙂 Just noticed your blog and thought it worth noting that the U of Washington study that the Journal of Pediatrics refers to was revealed to have been a phone survey and not scientifically based. However, a recent University of Texas study, which IS scientific AND peer reviewed, of Brainy Baby dvd products was announced Feb. 9, 2010 with results stating children 18-24 mos. learn 22 x’s more. It will even be published in JOCAM in the Fall. I googled “brainy baby study” and found the report.

    Here’s a link to read details about how the U of Washington study was done. Very interesting and shows you really do have to do your research.


    I think in our day and age we need to use media intellegently and not use it as a baby sitter. We don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water so to speak! Dvd’s should be used interactively with the parent as much as possible but I think it’s also okay to play a dvd to give us a break to take a shower or to get something done – like a home business. We shouldn’t feel guilty for needing that time. What a bonus, our children get to learn at the same time!

    1. Hello Stephanie 🙂 thank you very much for dropping by my blog. I totally agree with you when you said “I think in our day and age we need to use media intellegently and not use it as a baby sitter.” And on the use of dvds, my baby boy is learning and picking up things quite well from the online educational stuff.

      Thank you too for the information on the most recent study of the effectiveness of the brainy baby/baby einsten videos. I will surely look out for the article once it gets published. I have the brainy baby video set as a gift from a family friend for my daughter. We have since stopped using it though. However, I might use it again in the future once the study goes public. In the meantime, I am using online educational videos in moderation (i.e. my kids get to watch these with my supervision and only for a limited amount of time).

      1. Hello and great to hear your thoughts on this subject too! The press release about the study has actually already been out for over a week and can be found anywhere if you google it, but definitely on http://www.brainybaby.com, for sure they have it posted. I’ve heard the Academy of Pediatrics is revising their previous statement on the subject. Very interesting the stir this is causing! Oh, and the study was only on the BB videos, not Einstein. I recall Univ. of California did a study on Einstein and it came back with a “null” result…for the record since we’re talking about it!

        Just wondering, what part of the world do you live? I noticed the time difference.

      2. Hello Stephanie,

        Thanks for the quick reply!

        I’ll go over the website of brainy baby videos in a short while and evaluate the study too. Do you also use these videos for your kids? My little girl actually used them when she turned 3 or 4 months old. They have videos specific for certain group ages.

        BTW, I’m from the Philippines and is currently a stay at home mom (used to teach in a University here) on a break.

        Divina 🙂

  3. Here’s a site that offers kid-friendly free videos and interaction with fun websites.

    MEET ME AT THE CORNER, Virtual FIeld Trips for Kids (www.meetmeatthecorner.org)

    The new episode features author, teacher, scientist Janice VanCleave who talks about how to get ready for a school science fair.

    Next month is YOUTH ART MONTH with an interview with illustrator author Lori Mitchell and links to fun art and craft websites for kids.

  4. hello Donna,

    Thank you for taking the time to view my blog and for commenting too! I would definitely browse over your blog and see which activities would fit my kids (ages 3 years and 7 months and 1 year and 8 months, the youngest is still 4 months so he would be excused from participating 🙂 )

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