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Popular Baby Media May Not Actually Advance Learning
Date:3/10/2011

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who want to provide their babies a learning advantage these days often turn to what's been nicknamed "baby media" -- videos specifically designed to stimulate very young minds.

But researchers and pediatricians have begun to question whether babies actually are learning anything from these videos. And new studies are finding that the videos are successful at keeping infants entertained but do little to help them pick up words and concepts.

In fact, some researchers have found that kids who start watching baby media at an earlier age are apt to show less ability with language than kids who never were exposed to the videos or started watching later.

"I don't think we've seen anything to suggest that kids younger than 18 months, even with parents' support, will learn anything from a DVD," said Rebekah A. Richert, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside.

Babies nearing toddler age may pick up words or ideas by watching a DVD, but only with the help of a parent watching alongside them, Richert added.

She conducted a study of 96 babies between 1 and 2 years old that found no relationship between the amount of exposure to baby media and the children's general language development.

However, she and her colleagues also found that children who started watching baby DVDs at a younger age scored lower on tests of their language skills.

Their findings were echoed shortly thereafter by a University of Virginia study that found that children who viewed a baby DVD did not learn any more words than kids in a control group. The babies who learned the most words, in fact, were not exposed to the video at all. Instead, they picked them up from their parents during everyday activities, the researchers reported.

Such findings reinforce the position of the American Academy of Pedi
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