Last week the new "Baby Einstein" study came out suggesting that "educational" baby videos are ineffective teaching tools. The most memorable conclusion from one of the researchers: "I would rather babies watch American Idol than these videos."
Over the weekend I was invited to debate BabyFirst TV co-founder Sharon Rechter about the relative merits of these products. BabyFirst TV is a 24-hour cable channel that broadcasts "educational" shows aimed at infants and toddlers. Their programming includes the Brainy Baby video series, some of which were included in the recent study.
Unfortunately, a technical glitch meant I didn't get to participate in the discussion as planned, but preparing for the segment gave me a chance to examine the culture behind these products. Why are these videos so appealing to today's parents? As I thought about it over the weekend, and re-read Susan Gregory Thomas' new book Buy Buy Baby I came to realize that there is a perfect match between the marketing messages coming from companies like BabyFirst TV and Baby Einstein, and the culture and socialization of Gen X parents in particular. … Read more