Toddler teaching tool takes tumble

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A popular teaching tool for toddlers takes a tumble. Walt Disney is now offering refunds for all Baby Einstein videos after being threatened with a lawsuit for false advertising.

The suit claims the videos do the opposite of making your children smarter, as the product claims. They promise to expose your little one to the basics. Baby Einstein videos offer colorful critters and soothing music to encourage learning...and parental spending. Business Week estimates Baby Einstein controlled 90% of the baby media market, selling $200-million worth of products annually. At Champions for Children Learning Center, Maryann Girard says big sales don't necessarily equal big results.

"The brain is set up in the early childhood period to look for patterns, sequences," said Girard.

And, actions to imitate elements each video provides minus what Girard calls a key factor: three dimensions.

"The body and the brain has to learn about it even by touching it, putting it in the mouth using all of the senses," said Girard.

In the center's "Brain Gym," children can indulge all five senses through a variety of mental exercises and toys, without the TV screen. The University of Washington research team found 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.

"It misleads parents into thinking their children will be smarter if they use this product," said Girard. "A packaged purchased product is more effective than good old common sense."

Videos for short periods of time are OK to entertain, but her recommended teaching tool isn't something you can buy.

"I prescribe monkey bars," said Girard. "I prescribe sliding on slides. That's what's going to get them ready for school not Baby Einstein and it doesn't cost any more just time."

For more information on the Baby Einstein refund, click here.

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