Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Baby Videos: To View or Not to View: That is the question…

March 25 2008 by Dr. Jill Stamm, PH.D.

In the past year, there has been a great deal of controversy over whether expensive baby videos have in fact been successful in developing smarter, brighter children. Recently the Journal of Pediatrics has reported some disturbing news with regards to this. These videos that have promised bright kids have been found to not result in earlier, better language skills… but in fact infants and toddlers who spend long periods of time in front of them have fewer words that they understand! What is a parent to do???

What are Dr. Stamm's answers to this recent controversy? What is known specifically that should convince a parent to NOT put their tiny child in front of the TV, DVD or Video?
‘First, do no harm’. The truth is, no one yet knows exactly what such viewing is actually doing. We have no idea yet of the long-term effects on cognitive development. We only know that initially, it does not produce better, or earlier language comprehension. Until more is researched, it is the wisest course to not encourage screen time of any kind purposefully. An occasional viewing will probably not harm anyone, but to be safe… limit, limit, limit.

We know that the increased number of hours a child watches these baby DVD's and videos, the bigger the effect. The amount of viewing matters. Again… limit, limit.

It may be as simple as the fact that for every minute a baby is in front of a screen, they are not engaged with a loving, familiar caregiver. It may be as obvious as that. The science is getting more and more clear… infants learn from loving adults. The response patterns that get established between a predictable, loving caregiver and a baby are crucial. Language is best learned in a relationship. The ever–changing mouth and face and eye movements of the adult face fascinate a tiny child in ways that encourage mimicry. Mimicking is a critical way a child learns almost anything.

The growing research on newly discovered mirror neurons in the brain of primates (see her Chapter 3, Face Time: You are Your Baby's First Toy) is giving us a window into how the ability to mimic a movement or an emotion may unlock many of the mysteries of human development. Stay tuned. Dr. Stamm's full coverage of what is actually known about early brain development through research will fast-become the source of the most reliable information on child development.

For more insight to Dr. Stamm's scientific approach to what is best for Baby join us this week in our store for one of her “Sizzling Hot Topics” or purchase her book “Bright from the Start: The Simple Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child's Mind from Birth to Age 3