Smart parents who want smart children talk to their babies. They don’t park them in front of the TV set with a Baby Einstein or Brainy Baby DVD. Watching baby DVDs and videos retards language development, concludes a study by Frederick Zimmerman and Dr. Dimitri Christakis of the University of Washington. Time reports:
. . . with every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form. “The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew,” says Christakis.
. . . Last spring, Christakis and his colleagues found that by three months, 40% of babies are regular viewers of DVDs, videos or television; by the time they are two years old, almost 90% are spending two to three hours each day in front of a screen. Three studies have shown that watching television, even if it includes educational programming such as Sesame Street, delays language development.
Furthermore, watching the quick-cutting baby videos accustoms children to so much stimulation that they develop short attention spans, the researchers found. They’re bored by reality.
Babies thrive on one-on-one interaction with physically present adults.
Update: Jonathan Chait defends baby videos on The Plank as a necessity for exhausted parents who need a break from infant-child interaction.
My daughter didn’t watch TV as a baby or toddler, nor did she spend every waking minute interacting with me. She played with her toys. Don’t kids do that any more?