Does educational TV really teach?


Hanna Rosin at the XX Blog calls attention to an article in the upcoming Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (which I haven’t seen yet) as quoted in Science News (which I have seen) about Baby Einstein, showing that kids between one and two years old do not really learn vocabulary when exposed to two hours a day of this nonsense. In fact, they score lower than peers who weren’t exposed.

Is this a surprise?

Let’s see . . . one set of kids is passively exposed for about 1/5 of their waking hours to talking heads . . . the other set interacts with a parent or caregiver who’s responding to their vocalizations and expressions, mirroring them and speaking with (not at) them. Duh.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Media Use Guidelines (thanks to Dr. John Hutton whose abstraction of the guidelines I’m using):

Discourage ANY television/video viewing for children younger than 2 years and encourage activities that promote brain development, such as talking, playing, singing and reading together.

Older children should have a limit on entertainment media time of 1-2 hours of quality educational programming per day.

Parents watching together with their children as a family activity is best. Parents should be good role models and limit their own viewing.

Bedrooms should be “electronic media free zones.”

The moral. Kids are designed to be parented. The best educational toys for infants are their parents arms, where they learn love, language, social skills, empathy and trust–all the skills they’ll need for healthy adult relationships–and the floor, where they learn to roll, crawl, walk and explore on their own.


One Response to “Does educational TV really teach?”

  1. 1 Karen

    An utterly unrelated question: What does death mean in a fairy tale? What can it mean?

    I’ll admit up front that 1) this is for a class and an exam and 2) I have already finished that exam. This is for my own edification.

    There are a lot of different fairy tale deaths, first off. There is the death of a wicked stepmother or sister, which is pure revenge for wrongs committed against the protagonist. There are deaths like the death in “The Juniper Tree”. A woman wants a child and has a little boy, but dies in child birth and is buried under a juniper tree. Her son is later killed by the wicked stepmother and unknowingly consumed by his father. Tn death he is transformed into a bird who flies off, gets some necessary items, comes back and drops a millstone on his stepmother’s neck, killing her.

    When a young girl dies, is transformed, and comes back to marry a prince, the meaning is more obvious–separation from the family, growing into adulthood, discovery of self, perhaps the experience of an animal (carnal?) nature, and then a return to order.

    Death in stories tends to be about self-discovery, or a metaphor for sexual awakening. In the Juniper tree, I think it has a lot of those resonances, but I’m unsure what to make of the early death of the original mother and the death and transformation of the male child. What are your thoughts?

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