It has been noted by researchers that the producers of educational DVDs claim to use research based child development learning principles, but in fact, the developers do not, as a rule, consult child development experts in making their content. There is no end to the amount of inter-active computer videos, programmes, educational DVDs and so on that claim to be just what your child needs to learn vocabulary, reading and maths.
Educational DVDs – What the Experts say
The results of educational DVD research is sketchy and inconclusive at best, but the research thus far shows that the content of a lot of DVDs is not based on well-researched, professional input. That means the DVD producers can claim whatever they like about the wonders of the educational abilities your baby or toddler will gain from the DVDs they’ve produced – sometimes outrageous claims!
At any age, your child will learn more through human interaction and learning than by watching educational DVDs. A study of 1000 babies found that those babies who watched over 2 hours of DVDs per day, educational or not, had poorer language abilities and assessment results than babies who watched no DVDs at all. (Christakis & Zimmerman, 2007)
The long and short of it: There is no substitute for a parent and family setting to educate babies, toddlers and small children. In addition, almost all experts agree that children under two years of age should not spend any time watching TV, Computers, DVDs, phones, tablets or any other electronic devices.
Remember too, that every time your baby is glued to a tablet, he or she is not crawling, not active and not learning holistically, which can translate into attention deficit issues, sleeping difficulties and obesity problems later on.
The Smartbrain programme that we endorse is often carried out to remediate and reverse the effects of too much media exposure and to enhance the reader’s fixation span, so that he or she can read and de-code words faster, by practising phonics and not whole word memorization (i.e. word guessing).
What happens when a child falls behind because of too much media exposure?
Later on, parents feel that speed reading media courses or other reading DVDs and programmes will help their now-behind-child. However, one-on-one instruction with a trained facilitator is the way to establish a reading and maths foundation, especially in a remedial setting. A computer simply is not as effective, despite the attractive words and pictures that are just a mouse click away.
With correct motivation, children can go from apparent non-reading and concentration to fluent reading in a very short time. Instruction with us here at SmartBrain, from babies to adults, is gentle, continually assessed and has been proven, over and over, to be extremely effective when it comes to school readiness or remedial intervention.
Using Educational DVDs and other media positively
This article is not meant to suggest you should never switch the TV on, or that you should never allow your child to be exposed to media of any kind. However, as mentioned already, experts agree that simply passively watching media is not advisable for under two-year olds. Please resist the temptation to use the TV or DVDs as a baby-sitter! Don’t delude yourself into thinking that an educational DVD or computer will fast track your child’s brain development!
Some experts say that if you do use interactive media, this should be done with a parent, with the parent involved in communication and play. So sit your baby or toddler on your lap, watch a little or play a little with him or her and then talk about what is happening. The child will feel secure, know what he or she is doing and have the comfort of interacting with mom or dad.
Zero to Three 2012, AAP 2011, Stamm 2007