From doffy to Einstein
Can a DVD teach a language or raise an IQ?
Parents in the US have been offered a refund for their purchase of the Disney Baby Einstein series of DVDs which was marketed as having brain stimulating qualities - or that your kid would become a bright spark if they watched it.

Now some even cleverer chaps over at The Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) are threatening to sue Disney for misleading marketing. This after a bunch of even clevererer chaps did some studies and determined that a 2-year-old who watched the stuff actually understood an ‘average of 6 to 8 words less’ than a kid who did not.

It is thought that Disney makes about $200m a year on the Einstein series which claims ‘to foster the development of your toddler’s speech and language skills’.

Why I found this article amusing was because I recently sent a batch of children’s movies in English over to my daughter Sofia, to help her improve her limited English.

Then when I attended the preschool parents evening the other day, I made a point of asking the principal about DVDs and languages.

She basically said that kids learn through experiencing the words. So sitting in from of a TV might be fun from the imaging perspective, but little Gawie, Tebogo or in my case Sofia ain’t getting bubkiss in the way of language improvement.

‘What do you mean experience the words?’ I hear you say. According to the principal the kid has to, for example, walk or run and hear the words walk or run to grasp and fully understand and memorise the word. This made a lot of sense, but it did not stop me from sending more English DVDs.

The onus still lies with us the parents to exercise a healthy dose of common sense when raising our kids. Clearly if you really think a DVD is going to turn little Johnny from doffy to Einstein, you probably need your head read to begin with.

But Disney must carry some blame. I certainly don’t have the time to go and test something before buying it. And does this mean I’m a bad, lazy parent?

Read more by Marlon Abrahams

Do we expect too much from the educational products we buy?

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