Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What’s the News About TV and Babies?





One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to teach babies important signs is by watching our Baby Signs® DVDs. ( In fact, a coupon for 20% off a complete set of our 6 theme-based DVDs—plus a bonus video dictionary DVD for parents--is this week’s “Weekly Wow.”) But are DVDs good for babies?

Perhaps you’ve heard the concern voiced by pediatricians that babies under age 2 should watch no TV at all. This strong prohibition was issued a decade ago by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as a safeguard against parents who expose their very young children to hours and hours of general, non-educational programming, using the TV simply as a babysitter that keeps them occupied and happy for long stretches of time without providing any lasting benefits.

Since that time, more and more research studies have revealed that the content of what’s watched matters a great deal. In fact, educational programming specifically designed for babies and toddlers—especially programming with clear, simple language, that elicits their participation—can have positive effects on their development. This includes shows like “Dora the Explorer” and “Blue’s Clues” that research indicates can actually speed up language development.

It’s also critical that programming for babies avoids the frantic pacing and complex imagery typical of shows for older children and adults. In fact, new research has shown that even having adult fare playing in the background tends to disrupt infant play behavior.

It was with all these factors in mind that Dr. Susan Goodwyn, Co-founder of the Baby Signs® Program, and I created our Baby Signs® DVDs. The components, chosen to attract the attention of even the youngest audience, include simple animated characters called our “DiaperDoodles™,” real babies signing, BeeBo® our Baby Signs Bear, and funny monkey puppets. They model the signs slowly and repeatedly, thereby giving babies lots of time to notice and even practice the actions. In addition, the language is extremely simple, encouraging the baby to sign along, and the pace is very slow. And best of all, these DVDs actually teach something shown by research to be useful—signing!

Of course, everything in moderation is still the best advice. We would never advocate hours and hours of even our own DVDs! And whenever possible, it’s always good for parents and babies to enjoy our DVDs together. We just hope that well-meaning parents understand that slipping our DVDs video into their daily routines with their babies is much more likely to help than hinder their development!

Happy Signing (and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook)!

Linda

Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs® Program
and
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis
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