Smart toys, passive babies

“Smart” toys like Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby may turn babies into passive observers, says a NY Times story.

While researchers have found that some babies who are deprived of certain stimuli during the first years of life never completely recover, they have yet to demonstrate that increasing stimulation makes babies smarter. And some experts believe that the toys may even be detrimental to development because they lead children to focus on memorization rather than imagination and problem-solving abilities.

“Some of these toys are very entertaining and they make the child a passive observer,” said Dr. Kathleen Kiely Gouley, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York University Child Study Center. “You want the child to engage with the world. If the toy does everything, if it sings and beeps and shows pictures, what does the child have to do?”

The best toys require the most from the child.

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  1. Bluemount says:

    I don’t see the harm in a noisy toy, but I don’t believe it’s particularly significant either. The idea that you can test a life value, like IQ, is only a symptom of a misguided society pressuring parents to join the quest for efficient, reproducable goals. This toys isn’t going to replace a baby blanket, much less alter a child’s biological makeup. It only abstracts our trust for what makes it desirable to be human.

    How many hours a day do people work on musical exercise? Before radio singing and practicing music was as important to intimate interaction as a family meal. I could play piano before I could read, and we were taught to sing in harmony. It was a part of my daily experience and everyone was involved. I don’t think we were good enough to entertain outside of our family, but it I don’t hear children singing anymore. It seems huge and sad. Why don’t we ask parents how much they sing to their children.

  2. Wasn’t there some evidence, that came out a few years ago, that said that brain-patterns actually changed depending on whether a child spent most of their time in passive (I think tv viewing was used as an example) vs. active (playing with other kids, talking with parents, being read to by parents) activities?

    Even simpler than that, I shudder to think I might see a generation of students coming who expect to be passively entertained EVEN MORE than they are now. (If I could dance and sing like Britney Spears I’d be making the big bucks selling my soul on MTV, not teaching).