October 27, 2009

Can TV Make Your Child Smarter?

I have previously confessed that I (gasp) let my children watch television. I never set out to not allow TV in our house, but I do try to limit how much time they spend in front of the TV. Still, we have those days when the TV is on for prolonged periods of time. This afternoon will be one of those days. Yesterday all four girls needed five vaccinations apiece at their well child check up. After preschool today I am going to let them crash on the couch for the rest of the day.
Interestingly enough, there's a big buzz la
tely about Baby Einstein DVDs. Basically, in 2006 a consumer group asked the FTC to investigate whether the makers of the DVDs practiced deceptive advertising by marketing the DVDs as educational for children under the age of two. Recently, the company announced that anyone who purchased a Baby Einstein DVD between June 5, 2004 and September 4, 2009 can send the disc back for various exchanges, including a $15.99 refund. (Click here for full details). For the record, the General Manager of Baby Einstein says this is all simply an extension of a satisfaction program already in place.
Did I buy some of the DVDs in question? Sure. I think a lot of parents jumped on the Baby Einstein bandwagon. DVDs to make my children smarter? I'm all over that. But I have a hard time actually saying I bought the DVDs because I thought they would turn my children in to geniuses. My daughters enjoyed the music and the hand puppets. Do I think they learned something from the DVDs? Yes, to an extent. In truth, the DVDs simply reinforced things Hubby and I had already been teaching our daughters (animals, colors, etc).
I will never say TV is "evil." It has benefits. Of course, I can say that because we don't have cable so our TV viewing is relegated to PBS and DVDs of my choosing. I grew up on Sesame Street and appreciate the fact that my daughters enjoy the show, too. They count with Count and sing with Elmo, but even then I don't rely on PBS to tell me what my children should watch. There is an episode of Arthur which centers on one of the characters learning a swear word. Sure, the word is bleeped out, but the whole concept of that episode bothers me. I turn the show off every time that episode airs.
I have no problem with parents who do not allow their children to watch TV ever. We're all entitled to our own parenting styles. I just don't know if blaming a company because our children aren't geniuses is the right route to take.

4 comments:

Stephanie B said...

I'm with you. My kids watch limited TV and DVDs of my choosing, but they have a limited interest. My son(6) and daughter (20 months) spent hours yesterday wrestling a 15 foot stuffed caterpillar in Mom and Dad's closet yesterday and having a great time.

Maybe we stress about this stuff too much.

Quadmama said...

I've noticed recently that even when my daughters ask for a specific movie or show, they generally become distracted by their toys. Thank goodness for creative play!

maryanne said...

Baby Einstein did go pretty far in their claims that their products would increase intelligence, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find a parent who genuinely believed their claims word for word...

Quadmama said...

While I never thought the DVDs would make my children smarter, I must admit I bought into the whole "Einstein" aspect and thought the DVDs were supposed to be more educational than other products out there.

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