False Advertising: Smart-Baby Videos Won’t Help Your Tot

By Matt Van Hoven 

A study performed by the Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital found that there is “no cognitive benefit” for 1-2 year-old babies who watch TV during that period of their young lives.

An article on CNNHealth.com cites baby-video content makers Brainy Baby, Baby Genius and Baby Einstein, three companies whose names infer that their products will somehow improve your kid’s intelligence. Not true, says the study &#151 in fact having your kid watch an educational DVD is probably just taking time away from other cognitive activities that may actually be productive.

Further hampering the smart-baby product family is the American Academy of Pediatrics which says children under the age of two years shouldn’t watch any “screen-media” at all. None.

We did some checking and it turns out Baby Genius, Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby don’t claim to make your kid smarter at all &#151 in fact they pretty much admit that their products are meant only to keep your tiny-humans engaged so you can blog or whatever.

BabyEinstein: “Baby Einstein products are not designed to make babies smarter. Rather, Baby Einstein products are specifically designed to engage babies and provide parents with tools to help expose their little ones to the world around them in playful and engaging ways &#151 inspiring a baby’s natural curiosity.”

Translation: We occupy your kid so you can A) make more kids B) smoke a cig and think about how much better your life was pre-kid C) ponder your kid’s value on the black market.

BrainyBaby: “Does the content of what children watch matter? Research says yes and the originator of videos for young children wants to encourage parents to use media wisely with pre-school children.”

Translation: We saw that AAP study and well f*ck that.

BabyGenius: Nothing to quote here &#151 this company focuses on music, which is a known stimulus of brain activity in children. They don’t seem to have anything to say about their products having educational value.

Translation: (While plugging ears and closing eyes tightly) La la la la la la la la la la.

This next line from BabyEinstein was our favorite: “while we respect the American Academy of Pediatrics, we do not believe that their recommendation of no television for children under the age of two reflects the reality of today’s parents, families and households &#151 for example, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 68% of all babies under two years old watch screen media on any given day. The Baby Einstein Company believes that when used properly, developmentally-appropriate video content can be a useful tool for parents and little ones to enjoy together.”

Translation: Science schmience. Now who wants some Polio?

Really, are they serious? What if we said, “Well sticking a needle in your eye may be a known cause of blindness, but since 68% of seeing-people stick needles in their eye, we’re just gonna stay the course and keep sticking needles in there. And maybe we’ll juggle them around from time to time. You know, for kicks.”

These are children we’re talking about, not adults. Their brains are growing and it feels a bit irresponsible of these companies to shirk science just because it doesn’t bode well for their bottom line. Right? Shouldn’t they at least change their names to Baby Seinfeld, Baby Average Student and Brainyish Baby? At least then we’d be less apt to think their products will help breed the American presidents of tomorrow.

More: “Study Finds Ads Make TV Shows More Interesting…Riiight