Flutterby™! : anti-educational

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics


2009-06-17 15:58:37.521001+00 by Dan Lyke 8 comments

Old news, from back in 2007, but I've had the discussion about what media to expose babies to a few times recently so I think it's worth a note: babies shown infant "educational" videos learn fewer words:

For every hour a day that babies 8 to 16 months old were shown such popular series as "Brainy Baby" or "Baby Einstein," they knew six to eight fewer words than other children, the study found.

Some of this may be that the videos aren't actually verbal; there could be some benefit to having the kid watch Jim Lehrer[Wiki] or Daniel Schorr[Wiki].

[ related topics: Children and growing up Education Video ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-17 20:08:48.630135+00 by: markd

my sister backs that up. For the nieces first year, she did a constant stream of narration, talking all day long about what they're seeing, what things were, what colors were, and so on. Now at 2, the little one has an insane vocabulary. "I'm building a telescope!" while carrying around cardboard tubes.

#Comment Re: anti-educational made: 2009-06-18 22:33:45.996619+00 by: ascott

I am not surprised to see evidence that showing babies videos instead of talking to them impairs language acquisition, but I don't think it's related to the specific kind of video they're watching. Instead, I would contend that this happens mostly because videos as a format are totally noninteractive. A baby is engaged in learning language, not using it as an experienced practitioner; being exposed to a stream of images and words and being unable to interrupt or affect that stream provides none of the feedback that I think is absolutely essential to this kind of deep learning.

Commenter markd confirms this indirectly, I think - that "constant stream of narration" was probably really more of a dialogue with the nieces, interrupted by many human conversational interactions - markd's sister was talking WITH the babies, not just AT them.

An interesting followup to this would be to see whether AUDIOBOOKS also seem to hamper language acquisition in such a clear way. If they do, then that would seem to bolster my belief that language acquisition depends on interaction and feedback as well as mere exposure. When my children (I have two) were learning to speak, we'd often sit and read to them... but it wasn't just a one-way process; the kids asked questions about words they didn't understand, and we'd volunteer information about what we were reading, not just bull on through the text. Sometimes we'd read it incorrectly on purpose and see how they reacted - they loved catching us in one of those. It was an interaction.

And that, I think, is the key.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-18 23:48:08.867323+00 by: Dan Lyke

ascott, I think you're on to something strong there. Despite my comment about Daniel Schorr, I think there's only so much to be learned by observing a system rather than interacting with it, no matter what the developmental level.

So much of our educational experience is about presenting second-hand observations of a system that I think we falsely assign too much value to it.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-19 14:24:04.41892+00 by: Nancy

I agree with ascott's belief that "language acquisition depends on interaction and feedback as well as mere exposure". Which is why I want to GO to Mexico to learn to speak the language instead of using Rosettastone! ;-)

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-22 14:26:55.131981+00 by: babyeducator

The study everyone keeps talking about that cites a loss of vocabulary and that DVDs will turn your kids brain into jelly have a lot of erroneous facts surrounding it, and has been promoted as a fear based agenda for far too long.

Go to www.junkscience.com and get the truth. This so called "study" was a mere phone survey. Nobody studied or even watched "Brainy Baby" or Baby Einstein"! Total nonsense.

There are scores of positive and real scientific research available to suggest that media viewing for children can actually have a very positive influence. In fact, when you count and look at all the research on this subject, there is an overwhelming amount of positive research that other Universities have performed.

Even the recent Harvard study that states DVD’s cause no harm, but no benefit either, were not studying content ! Read it for yourself. Harvard didn’t test the educational value, nor did they test products like Brainy Baby. Please do not draw conclusions that are not based on fact and then attempt to pass it off to other parents as the truth! Do your homework, please.

The key is content. My children were raised on quality, educational videos and they definitely learned all their basics from videos. DVD’s are just one more tool in the parent’s learning bag and should be viewed as a healthy component to assist in developing a “love of learning” for their child. I believe in parental interaction and other forms of imaginative play, however to completely dismiss DVD’s in view of all the positive research is really throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Personally, I have found the Brainy Baby DVD's to be extremely helpful and educational. No loss of vocabulary on my kids!

Even the AAP has said that their policy on media viewing is “just to be on the safe side” and states that it cannot support their policy scientifically (see AAP web site for exact quote).

I wouldn’t exactly cut the cord off the TV yet and as a parent I wouldn't feel guilty if you use a video. What about all those parents that absolutely swear that their child learned their ABC’s from a video? Don’t we count?

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-22 15:36:07.880177+00 by: Larry Burton

Yeah, I raised both of my sons on these videos. I asked them what they thought of the educational value of them and the oldest one told me, "I can't find words to describe how beneficial they were."

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-22 15:39:10.477918+00 by: Dan Lyke

So the JunkScience.com URLs mentioned would be http://www.junkscience.com/ByTheJunkman/20070823.html

I'd be interested in which recent "Harvard Study", as well.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-22 16:13:42.979525+00 by: ebradway

I wonder how varied early childhood development is? And if it can be made uniform, do we really want to?

I know that I was generally non-communicative until I was able to form entire sentences and that the first time I said my ABCs, I did so backwards. Being an introvert, I put a great deal of forethought into my statements before my mouth starts moving (unless I'm either over-caffeinated or drunk). That personality trait wasn't learned. I've always been that way. I would have scored miserably on vocabulary tests between 18-24 mos.

Knowing Dan's eccentric (but amazingly effective) learning style, I'd bet he would have been an outlier on such a study as well.