Skip to main content

Search
For Media

Press Releases

|

Report Examines Videos, DVDs, Video Games and Computer Programs Targeting Infants and Young Children

December 14, 2005

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report today called “A Teacher in the Living Room: Educational media for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.” Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, and Michelle Garrison, MPH, from Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, and the University of Washington’s Child Health Institute were lead researchers of the report.

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report today called “A Teacher in the Living Room: Educational media for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.” Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, and Michelle Garrison, MPH, from Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, and the University of Washington’s Child Health Institute were lead researchers of the report.

The report examined 29 top selling electronic media products, such as Baby Einstein, Brainy Baby, Adventure Workshop Tots and Learning with Leap, and other videos, DVD and computer programs that are marketed to parents of infants, toddlers and preschool age children.

“There is no scientific evidence that these products have any proven educational value for young children,” said Dr. Dimitri Christakis, who is a pediatric researcher at Children’s Hospital, director of the Child Health Institute and an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “These products will not make your child smarter and can, in fact, create attention span problems for your child later in life.”

Recent research by Dr. Christakis has shown that children who watch TV and videos before age 3, are more likely to develop attention problems by age 7.

Christakis’s research supports the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation of no screen time (television, video or computer) for children under age 2.

“A child’s brain development is directly linked to the type of stimuli received in the first two years of life, when the brain size triples,” said Dr. Christakis. “If an infant is exposed to a lot of rapid-movement stimulation, like that found on TV and videos, their brain becomes conditioned to expect or seek it. Real life seems extremely boring by comparison.”

“I am not anti-TV, anti-video or computer games,” said Dr. Christakis. “I don’t mind if these products are promoted as entertainment for young children. But I think parents need to be wary when they claim to be ‘educational.’ There’s no research to back it up.”

For the Kaiser Foundation report, researchers at Children’s Hospital reviewed the type and frequency of educational claims made in the products marketing materials and advertising, the product instructions and guidelines that describe how parents can maximize educational value, and whether the manufacturer had done any scientific research to validate their educational claims.

They also conducted interviews with representatives of companies who make and market these products, and did a systematic review of research literature to search for studies that link media usage and cognitive development in children.

The report summarizes a variety of recommendations put forth by advocates such as:

  • Increase research on the impact of educational media products on very young children
  • Create an independent non-profit review service that would make professional assessments of educational media products available to parents, free of charge
  • Create clearer standards for products marketed to parents as “educational”
  • Support the development of non-commercial educational media content for young children.

Dr. Christakis also encourages parents to be active participants in stimulating their child’s cognitive attention. “Read to your child, take them to parks, zoos and museums, play with simple toys such as building blocks to stimulate their imaginations. Don’t plop them down in front of the TV or computer as a substitute for one-on-one interaction.”

About Seattle Children’s

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Seattle Children’s has been delivering superior patient care while advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit www.seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Latest News

The Fault in “The Fault in Our Stars”
7.24.14 — On the Pulse Blog

I loved “The Fault in Our Stars.” Both the book and the movie. I read the book a few years ago during a flight. I cried so hard ... cont.

Doctor uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells
7.23.14 — FOX News

Dr. James Olson is a pediatric oncologist at Seattle Children’s, and the scientist who developed a compound using a protein ... cont.

Boy healing quickly after heart transplant
7.22.14 — The Columbian

In less than two weeks, Jack Conover went from being a 7-year-old in need of a heart transplant to a vibrant boy walking out of ... cont.