Checkup: Are Smart-Baby Videos Dumb?
Even though they might not openly admit it, all parents hope their kids will turn out to be geniuses. And why not? Being really smart is good.
But this hope that their offspring will one day change the world can lead parents to make some dubious choices -- like investing in videos that claim to make babies smarter.
Thereís the Baby Genius series, featuring cute, upbeat songs, like the classic "Apples and Bananas." If Baby Genius doesnít enough intellectual punch for your taste, you might try Baby Einsteinís "Wild Animal Safari Discovery Kit."
Now, thereís nothing really wrong with these videos, but do they actually make babies smarter?
"No," says Fred Zimmerman, a researcher at UCLA who studies child development.
"Smart baby videos have very limited impact on babies cognitive development and certainly no positive impact thatís ever been detected in any of the research literature."
So why donít smart baby videos make kids smarter? Because, Zimmerman says, they donít give babies what they really need to develop.
"They develop from interaction, primarily with their parents and other adults, but also with the real world, the physical world around them, and those are things that baby videos just cannot reproduce."
Now, to be fair, baby videos have backed away a bit from their former claims that watching videos of cartoons and crude hand puppets set to classical muzak actually boost your kidís IQ. But, as Zimmerman points out, naming a product Baby Genius still suggests as much.
So what should you do if you want your kids to grow up smart? According to Zimmerman, donít sweat it.
"I think parents should probably take a chill pill on this issue. In a normal developing environment kids are going to get what they need."