When we think of Disney, we tend to think child friendly and a company that has a child’s best interest at heart, right? Wrong! When Disney came out with their “educational” video for babies and toddlers, also known as Baby Einstein, advertisers and marketing executives claimed that if parents bought these videos that it would increase the intellect of their children. According to a New York Times article, Baby Einstein (may need to have a NY times account to open) is “delivered via the non-responsive television screen, providing canned information that includes abstract concepts, useless to the new minds it purports to “teach””(1).
Advocacy groups such as The Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood filed federal complaints against Disney for false advertising and selling without proof of success. CCFC asked the FTC to prohibit Disney from making these false claims about their videos educational benefits and to require that the ads and packaging for the Baby Einstein products display the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for no television for children under the age of 2 years old. This way, parents who are buying these products are aware that Baby Einstein is NOT approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics and that in fact, it is strongly discouraged for purchase for children under the age of 2.
The problem, as the CCFC claim is that parents want the best for their children, and so through Disney’s deceptive marketing, parents are being exploited and buying these products for their children. However, in reality, these videos may be putting the children at risk, according to Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and member of the Boston-based advocacy group claims (A14). There is no research or evidence to support that these videos are helping children develop. In fact, research has shown that television is actually a poor education took for very young children!
The CCFC in a suit against Disney forced the Disney Company to offer full refunds to everyone who had bought Baby Einstein videos from June 2004 to September of 2009. The American Academy of Pediatrics claims that screen time for children under the age of 2 is actually more beneficial than any of these videos that claim to increase the intelligence of a child. Disney, after the suit had the CCFC (may need NY times account to access) forced out of the Harvard-affiliated children’s mental health center in Boston, which had housed and sponsored the group for over a decade. Clearly, Disney has a problem being wrong and wants to make a statement to not be challenged again. Then again, this seems to be the best information to have! Is this not the reason why we have advocacy groups? To fight major corporations who are harming members of society? As one of the articles writes, “It’s really chilling that any corporation, and particularly one marketing itself as child friendly, would lean on a children’s center,” said Dr. Lynn, a psychiatry instructor at Harvard Medical School. “And it’s heartbreaking that a children’s center would cave in.””
So, since we have been talking about these videos, below is a clip from one of the Baby Einstein videos. See for yourself what all the controversy was over…..
Now ask yourself, what do you think of Disney’s Baby Einstein?!?!?
Crary, D. (2006, May 1). Advocacy Group Files Federal Complaint Against Makers of Videos for Infants. The Associated Press State & Local Wire, p. 2. Retrieved November 7, 2010, from the LexisNexis Academic database
LETTERS; A Formula for Smart Babies? It’s Not E=mc2. (2009, October 28). New York Times, p. 2. Retrieved November 8, 2010, from http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE0D81730F93BA15753C1A96F9C8B63&ref=disney_walt_company
Lewin, Tamar. “After Victory Over Disney, Group Loses Its Lease.” New York Times 9 Mar. 2010, sec. Education: 3. http://www.nytimes.com. Web. 8 Nov. 2010.