[Paleopsych] NYT: See Baby Touch a Screen. but Does Baby Get It?
Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D.
ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Wed Dec 28 15:41:38 UTC 2005
At Xmas I gave my wife /Animals in Translation/ by the phenom, Temple
Grandin. She argues from animal observations that human babies have to
play with and manipulate physical objects, pointing out that kids that
have not held a pencil and drawn with it, cannot draw with the cursor on
a computer screen. She is worried about children who are playing
videogames and not outside playing in the physical world.
I have two adult kids and two teens, and I got them all a new trampoline
for Xmas. It helps them keep their balance.
Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D.
Solutions Consulting Group
166 East 5900 South, Ste. B-108
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
Tel: (801) 261-1412; Fax: (801) 288-2269
Check out our webpage: www.solution-consulting.com
Feeling upset? Order Get On The Peace Train, my new solution-oriented book on negative emotions.
Premise Checker wrote:
> See Baby Touch a Screen. but Does Baby Get It?
> By TAMAR LEWIN
> Jetta is 11 months old, with big eyes, a few pearly teeth -
> and a tiny index finger that can already operate electronic
> entertainment devices.
> "We own everything electronic that's educational - LeapFrog,
> Baby Einstein, everything," said her mother, Naira
> Soibatian. "She has an HP laptop, bigger than mine. I know
> one leading baby book says, very simply, it's a waste of
> money. But there's only one thing better than having a baby,
> and that's having a smart baby. And at the end of the day,
> what can it hurt? She learns things, and she loves them."
> New media products for babies, toddlers and preschoolers
> began flooding the market in the late 1990's, starting with
> video series like "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby." But
> now, the young children's market has exploded into a host of
> new and more elaborate electronics for pre-schoolers,
> including video game consoles like the V.Smile and handheld
> game systems like the Leapster, all marketed as educational.
> Despite the commercial success, though, a report released
> yesterday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, "A Teacher in the
> Living Room? Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers and
> Pre-schoolers," indicates there is little understanding of
> how the new media affect young children - and almost no
> research to support the idea that they are educational.
> "The market is expanding rapidly, with all kinds of
> brand-new product lines for little kids," said Vicky
> Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Foundation. "But the
> research hasn't advanced much. There really isn't any
> outcomes-based research on these kinds of products and their
> effects on young children, and there doesn't seem to be any
> theoretical basis for saying that kids under 2 can learn
> from media.
> "If parents are thinking, 'I need a break, I'll put my
> 4-year-old in front of this nice harmless video,' that's one
> thing," she continued, "But if parents are thinking, 'This
> is good for my 3-month-old, it will help her get ahead in
> the world,' that's another."
> In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no
> screen time at all for babies under 2, out of concern that
> the increasing use of media might displace human interaction
> and impede the crucially important brain growth and
> development of a baby's first two years. But it is a
> recommendation that parents routinely ignore. According to
> Kaiser, babies 6 months to 3 years old spend, on average, an
> hour a day watching TV and 47 minutes a day on other screen
> media, like videos, computers and video games.
> "These new media toys are growing and becoming quite
> prevalent," said Claire Lerner, a child-development expert
> at Zero to Three, a nonprofit advocacy group that includes
> information about brain development on its Web site. "This
> generation of parents grew up thinking technology was all
> positive, so if they see their child looking happy, engaged
> with what's on the screen, it's very seductive. But a group
> of toddlers making up a story together is a much richer
> learning experience than dragging things across a screen to
> make a story. Children learn best in the context of
> While there is no research on the effect of the new
> commercial products, earlier research has shown that
> educational television can teach 3- to 5- year-olds
> vocabulary and number concepts. Most child-development
> experts, however, say that babies under about 2½ are not
> sufficiently developed for such learning.
> Still, many parents buy their babies toys designed for older
> children, either believing that their children are unusually
> advanced or hoping the toys will make them so.
> Just minutes after spending $150 on a VideoNow player and
> cartridges (ages 7 and up) at a Manhattan Toys "R" Us, Ms.
> Soibatian holds Jetta up in her stroller to see if she is
> interested in Learn Through Music Plus! (ages 2 to 5). At
> first, Jetta gently bops the screen with her whole hand,
> watching the flashing lights, but soon she notices the
> buttons, the index finger goes out, and a delighted Ms.
> Soibatian is ready to buy again.
> "You're never too young to learn, and kids nowadays are more
> advanced because of all these educational toys," said Iesha
> Middleton, another parent shopping at Toys "R" Us. Ms.
> Middleton's son will be 3 next month. "I tried to teach my
> son his ABC's when he was 1, and I didn't get very far, but
> with the Leapster, he learned A-Z really fast, and he can
> count up to 50."
> Even Sesame Workshop, long the torchbearer in children's
> educational media, is moving into the infant market, with
> new "Sesame Beginnings" DVD's for babies 6 months and up.
> "There are all these babies watching videos, and we wanted
> to address the reality that's out there and come up with
> something that is at least appropriate," said Gary Knell,
> Sesame's president. "Ours are about sharing and caring,
> modeling good parenting, not the cognitive approaches that
> are more appropriate for 3- or 4-year-olds. We won't be
> making any boastful claims about school success."
> Others have less restrained marketing: The "Brainy Baby -
> Left Brain" package has a cover featuring a cartoon baby
> with a thought balloon saying, "2 + 2 = 4" and promises that
> it will inspire logical thinking and "teach your child about
> language and logic, patterns and sequencing, analyzing
> details and more."
> The V.Smile video game system - a "TV Learning System"
> introduced last year - features the motto "Turn Game Time
> into Brain Time" and cartridges called "smartridges." The
> V.Smile, named "Best Toy of the Year" at the toy industry's
> 2005 trade show, has a television ad where a mom tells her
> children, "You'll never get into college if you don't play
> your video games!" The game says it is designed for children
> 3 to 7.
> There are, as yet, no reliable estimates of the size of the
> market for such devices, but at toy stores nationwide, they
> are selling briskly.
> Educational toy companies say their products are designed
> with the existing educational and developmental research in
> mind but add that more research on media effects would be
> "There's nothing that shows it helps, but there's nothing
> that shows it's does harm, either," said Marcia Grimsley,
> senior producer of "Brainy Baby" videos. "Electronics are
> part of our world, and I think that, used appropriately,
> they can benefit children."
> Ms. Rideout says parents need more help sorting through the
> array of electronic media: "We have detailed guidelines for
> advertising and labeling products like down pillows and
> dietary supplements, but not for marketing education media
> products," she said.
> Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children's Technology Review,
> has watched children play with many of the new products and
> believes that many of them have great education potential
> for older preschoolers.
> "We spend a great percentage of our energy in preschool
> teaching kids about symbols, and interactive electronics are
> very good teachers of symbols," Mr. Buckleitner said.
> "V.Smile is like a hyperactive nanny with flashcards. We had
> a 4-year-old, on the cusp of reading, who was so excited
> about finding words in the maze that she got addicted, in an
> arcade-ish way, and wrote down 20 words on a piece of scrap
> paper, then came and said, 'Look at my word collection.' I
> asked if she could read them and she could. It was very
> motivating for her."
> It does not work that way when the toy does not fit the
> child's developmental stage or pace: Mr. Buckleitner
> remembers a 2-year-old playing with an interactive
> electronic toy, but not understanding the green "go" button;
> after coaching from her mother, when she touched a cow that
> mooed, she was frustrated by the cow's continued mooing
> while she touched five other pictures. "The design people
> are still learning, so the technology will get better," Mr.
> Buckleitner said.
> Still, he concedes that in teaching small children, "There's
> not an educator alive who would disagree with the notion
> that concrete and real are always better."
> Research bears that out. In a line of experiments on early
> learning included in a research review by Dan Anderson, a
> University of Massachusetts psychology professor, one group
> of 12- to 15-month-olds was given a live demonstration of
> how to use a puppet, while another group saw the
> demonstration on video. The children who saw the live
> demonstration could imitate the action - but the others had
> to see the video six times before they could imitate it.
> "As a society, we are in the middle of a vast uncontrolled
> experiment on our infants and toddlers growing up in homes
> saturated with electronic media," Mr. Anderson said.
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