About a month ago, I blogged about perhaps my favorite book I have read this year, Nurtureshock (which I sadly typo-d in the original post).  Anyway, how exciting for me to discover there’s a Nurtureshock blog now.  Definitely added to my bookmarks.  The first post I came across was one about Disney refunding millions of dollars to the Baby Einstein customers (suckers?) who actually believed watching these videos would make their children smarter.  I believe PT Barnum would have something to say about this.  Anyway, Disney has tacitly (though not explicitly, it turns out) admitted defeat by this refund.

There was a lot of hoopla about Baby Einstein over the weekend. To understand it, you need a brief backstory – and then some deeper backstory, too.

A month and a half ago, Disney announced in a press release that it was going to begin issuing refunds for its Baby Einstein videos: buyers of the DVDs can return them to Disney for $15.99 or exchange them for other products.

However, nobody noticed – not until this past Friday, when the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood (CCCF) issued its own press release. In that statement, the CCCF claimed that the refund offer was a victory for the organization, borne out of its ongoing campaign against Baby Einstein and the makers of other baby DVDs.

Within hours, the New York Times suggested that CCCF had won a major concession, and Disney’s refund offer “appear[s] to be a tacit admission that they did not increase infant intellect,” an assessment soon repeated by the Wall Street Journal and in other publications.

You can read more about the subject at the blog.  The book, which you really should read, has a nice explanation on how the videos are little more than a cheap babysitter.  There is value in that, but nobody should think it’s making their children smarter.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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