Parents Better than Baby Einstein for Baby's Learning
Parents only wish to do the best for their children, and certain companies play on that emotion by introducing “educational videos” to help toddlers to get a jump on vocabulary and other learning abilities. A new study from the University of California at Riverside shows that these videos are not only ineffective, but also may hamper the children’s ability to learn.
Researchers studied a group of 96 one- and two-year olds using a video from the Walt Disney Baby Einstein series called “Baby Wordsworth”, which is aimed at teaching babies new vocabulary words. Some of the children were assigned to watch the video daily for six weeks. Psychologist and lead researcher Rebekah Richert tracked how many of the 30 target words highlighted in the video were learned by the toddlers. Children not watching the videos were assessed for their knowledge on the same group of words by using picture recognition. The children watching the video did not show advanced language skills over those who did not.
The study matches the findings from previous research that actually found infants who watch DVD’s learn fewer words and score lower on cognitive tests by the time they reach preschool. “Face to face time with parents appears to be far more stimulating,” said Jean Gross, an educational psychologist not involved in the study. “Our brains have not evolved to learn from machines; babies are primed to respond to a face.”
The study researchers agree with this assessment. They said that the videos may actually over-stimulate the brain during a critical window of development, and babies are better able to learn these words when they hear them from a live speaker who engages with them directly. A video only provides a one-way flow of information and the words are accompanied by multiple stimulating sounds that may confuse the child.
In addition, the videos replace parent-child bonding time. Richert says, “There is no substitute for a parent’s attention and time.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 2 not watch any television, including “educational” videos.