Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The raging Baby Einstein debate

This just in... babies don't turn into geniuses by watching TV and DVD's! If you don't believe me just ask, the millions of parents who thought sitting a baby in front of a Baby Einstein DVD unattended, thinking it would single handedly give their kid a Harvard education.

If you are unfamiliar with the situation, it seems that for years the Baby Einstein line of products, most notably the "educational" DVD's have been under attack by groups led by the likes of Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, complaining that the products did not achieve adequate results versus the claims made by Disney.

The company was started by Julie Aigner-Clark and her husband in 1997 when they produced a VHS that was later released as "Language Nursery." If you want more history, check the website here.

Here for your judgement and education (or lack of it depending on your point of view) if you have never seen a Baby Einstein DVD for yourself, is a clip from Baby Einstein's "Baby's First Signs."

I hoped you watched very careful for at least a few minutes. Now you tell me if you think that this and this alone could turn your child into the world's smartest toddler. It's obviously not the "get smart quick" scheme the bitter parents raising the ruckus hoped it was, and now they are pissed.

Enter the latest shot fired into the controversy. After already retracing the word "educational" from it's marketing strategy back in 2006 after Linn and her organization filed a class action lawsuit against Disney for even making that claim, now they are being strong-armed into offering a "no questions asked" refund for anyone who wishes to return up to four Baby Einstein DVD's.

This whole thing hits home for me as I am a parent who owns all but a couple of the Baby Einstein DVD collection and I find myself scratching my head at the asinine parents who thought that by just watching TV alone, their child would be brilliant.

Lost in all of these fingers pointing to Disney and their "deceptive marketing" are the fingers pointing back to the parents for taking a little responsibility in raising their kids instead of relying on someone else to do it for them.

These DVD's, like any other product that has been created for children, was meant to be a tool to supplement parent/child interactions, not replace them. It was never advertised as the "golden key" that would somehow unlock your kids inner Einstein and allow them to cure cancer by age three.
A good friend of mine and a worthy adversary in the arena of debate posed this point in one of our discussions she said, "Disney's claim of these DVD's being education was misleading and false advertising." I will concede that for most parents, yes, the appeal of a magical DVD that is supposed to educate your child with little to no effort is a very appealing idea....but.

By that same argument can I not sue 6 Minute Abs for my abs not looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his early days? Or can I go after every "earn money overnight" company that floods my cable at night.

Sadly, I can't because despite their lofty claims, I am cognizant of the simple fact

that there is no easy one step way to get things in this world. A realization that is sorely lacking in the parenting world.

My daughter is not smart because she watches Baby Einstein, but because, she and I and her mother took the time to sit and watch it with her, explain to her what she saw, and continued to apply what she was learning in her everyday activity. Some might call that, oh I don't know, parenting...

Thankfully mine is not the only voice speaking on behalf of these videos. This mother pretty much says all the things I was thinking and only proves that not all parents hate the franchise. To me, this is just another in an ever-growing list of people who are lacking accountability for their shortcomings.

They are just another body a long line that is growing longer by the day. Maybe if they spent half the time with their kids then that the spent complaining about the videos, they would have the problems they have today...just saying.

I for one stand by the product and like everything else in this world be it book, video, crayons, flash cards... when used correctly, can be a very powerful and yes educational tool.

By the way...did you get a good look at ol Susan Linn's website? Why does it seem like everyone who goes up against a giant, always seems to have an agenda?

Nevermind the fact that the front page of a site that is supposed to be about an organization about kids is just one big commercial for her books.

Makes me wonder how much she is doing this for the good of the kids, or to ensure her spot on the best-sellers list...hmmm.

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