I have been seeing a lot of articles online and in the news lately about Toddler DVDs like Baby Einstein, Baby Genius, and others coming under attack for not being as educational as previously suggested. While I am not a childhood education professional, I am a parent of two toddler/preschool age children, so I would like to propose that anyone who purchases or registers for DVDs for their children honestly thinking it will make them smarter is just fooling themselves.
An article on Reuters today (link below) highlighted a recent study focusing on formal production features (rhyming, music, toddler-friendly zooming) used to create DVDs, which asserted Toddler DVDs are poorly designed and present little if no educational value. The founder of Baby Einstein, Julie Clark, in the article commented in response to the findings that the study was poorly designed. She however suggested that babies and moms both need downtime now and again so there is no harm in putting on age-appropriate shows every once in a while.
Toddler DVDs do serve a purpose—to entertain. You probably have your own favorite TV shows. So it’s OK for children to watch shows within reason. Especially for stay-at-home moms, you need a break sometimes to get things done or just to relax. I even have it on good advice from our local School District Parents as Teachers advocate that it’s OK to put a DVD on when you immediately get home from work and/or when you need to make dinner. Kids who are in daycare need the down time when they return home just like you do; they need to unwind for a few minutes, so putting on a DVD is a good way to allow yourself time to make dinner and/or go through the mail.
Just like health articles online are not meant to be a replacement for discussing issues of concern with your personal doctor, DVDs should not replace good parenting.