Leave Us Kids Alone: the Left Targets Baby TV

With a toddler in the house, I've gotten intimately familiar with the Baby Einstein videos. While not my personal choice for entertainment, the videos are cute and appealing with lots of playful puppets and colorful images (and surprisingly good music - mostly classics rendered in a "babyish" fashion). Plus, my daughter genuinely enjoys them, so who am I to argue? But, wouldn't you know that there are busybodies out there who think baby videos are not only bad, but even harmful.
Many parents monitor and limit their children's "screen time," though, and pediatricians frown upon any video-watching by babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently discourages television-viewing by children under 2 (the policy is under review). "The evidence is not there to support that [videos] are developmentally appropriate or educational for this age group," says Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and a member of the academy's communications and media council. Studies comparing how young children learn from a parent versus video find "a video deficit," she adds. "Children will always learn better from the live presentation."

In recent years, critics such as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a Boston nonprofit that aims to restrict corporate marketing to children, have taken on the baby-video sector, including the popular Baby Einstein series, whose videos feature music, sounds and animal hand puppets.
A non-profit in Boston?! We're doomed!
Activists complained to regulators about the series' implied educational benefits and the potential harms of video-viewing by the very young. Regulators didn't take action. Last year, parent company Walt Disney Co. offered refunds to Baby Einstein DVD customers, saying it did so under a long-standing customer-satisfaction guarantee. It continues to sell Baby Einstein videos and toys.
This is the point when I offer a bit of boilerplate about how this is a free country and boring busybodies can band together and start non-profits dedicated to removing all joy from the lives of toddlers (just don't invite me to the office parties). And, in this case, the dispute has played out entirely in the private sector. Even my pediatrician gets in the act, and is quick to denounce the videos when I mention them. Talk to the hand, please. The US government has declined to respond to the dullards' complaints. So far. The decline-to-act occurred during the horrors of the "deregulated" Bush era. W even praised Baby Einstein at one of his State of the Union addresses, so the fix was obviously in.

Still it's annoying to to think there are adults out there who are targeting children for being insufficiently pure in their TV viewing, or Happy Meal eating. When the busybody Left can't even leave little kids alone, imagine how they want to treat the parents.

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