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Disney takes a stand for Baby Einstein


About a week ago, we mentioned a recent University of Washington study that showed early educational videos—more specifically, Brainy Baby or Baby Einstein products—to hinder, not boost, the language development of toddlers. According to the study, six-to 18-month old children who had watched these DVDs knew six to eight fewer words than other toddlers their age.

Now the Walt Disney Company, distributor of Baby Einstein videos, is lashing out at the university.

“We welcome well conceived and well executed research of all kinds, particularly involving media products and children,” Disney president Robert Iger said in a letter to Mark Emert, president of the University of Washington. “Nevertheless, one may well question whether the study […] was indeed well conceived and well executed. Our assessment, based on what we have been able to learn thus far, is that its methodology is doubtful, its data seem anomalous and the inferences it posits unreliable.”

Iger goes on to say that the study unnecessarily lumps all content described as “baby video” into one category, doesn’t attempt to create a control group to show the natural variation in speaking ability, and bases its data on too small a group of children. The study also dismisses the benefits of Baby Einstein’s interactive elements.

“The press release bluntly states that “parents who want to give their infants a boost in learning language probably should limit the amount of time they expose their children to DVD’s and videos such as “Baby Einstein.” This is a very serious statement, one which has now been widely picked up in the press. It is also a statement that grossly misstates the study’s extremely limited findings and conclusions,” Iger writes.

The war is on. Thankfully it’s likely to stay between grown-ups.

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