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Study Targets Infant Videos

Finds Too Much TV, Too Few Words

POSTED: 10:50 pm MDT August 8, 2007
UPDATED: 11:02 pm MDT August 8, 2007

Many of us have used videos to entertain and interact with our children, but a new study says those videos may do more harm than good.

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle conducted a phone survey of 1,008 families last year.

The parents of children ages 2 or younger were asked if their children watched television, DVDs or videos.

32-percent of the parents surveyed answered yes.

Some of the shows mentioned in the report were Sesame Street, Blues Clues, Sponge Bob and the Baby Einstein series.

According to the study, for every hour babies ages 8 to 16-months watched, they knew six to eight fewer words than other children.

Baby Einstein founder July Aigner-Clark says the study is flawed.

"The study was so much about passive viewing for hours and hours. No Baby Einstein video is longer than 25 minutes and no Baby Einstein video is meant for passive viewing," said Aigner-Clark.

She also says she never claimed the videos would make children smarter and that the videos are meant to be used as part of a whole interactive program that includes books, music, toys and games.

"It's all about how you as a parent choose to use it. We can't control that. All we can do is make really good material and hope it's used appropriately," said Aigner-Clark.

Aigner-Clark sold the Baby Einstein brand to Disney in 2001.

The current General Manager of the Baby Einstein Company, Susan McLain, said in a statement to 7News, "Baby Einstein is committed to maintaining the highest standards in the development of all of our products. After thoroughly analyzing the University of Washington study, we have serious concerns about the many contradictions between the study's conclusions and the content of its press release that created publicity which incorrectly suggests that this study focused on Baby Einstein products. In fact, the report concludes by stating "The analysis presented here is not a direct test of the developmental impact of viewing baby DVDs/videos. We did not test through experimental manipulation whether viewing baby DVDs/videos has a positive or negative impact on vocabulary acquisition."

The study itself concluded that further research would be required to determine the reasons for an association between early viewing of baby DVDs and poor language development.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under 24 months.

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