Baby Einstein Videos: Not so Brainy After All (Refunds and Deceptive Advertising)
Do you have any Baby Einstein DVDs kicking around your house? Did you buy them thinking you were helping your baby learn?
It was all that clever marketing. Claims that the videos will increase shape and pattern recognition, and spatial awareness. The " the Baby Einstein website described its Baby Wordsworth DVD as a rich and interactive learning experience that introduces your little one to the concepts of verbal and written communication and sign language." That sounds great! Who wouldn't want that? For more educational claims made by Baby Einstein about their vidoes, check out this link.
It just turns out that all their claims were, well, false.
Not because they wanted to, but because of a class action lawsuit, the company is now offering refunds for the DVDs. It’s been reported widely by the New York Times, ABC, and other media outlets.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has said for years that screen time for those under two is harmful, and carries no benefit. It seems only when pressed to acknowledge that their marketing to busy, tired parents was totally incorrect and unethical, did they offer up the refund. According to the Campaign for a Commerical Free Childhood:
“Baby Einstein’s offer of a refund came three years after CCFC filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Baby Einstein for making unsubstantiated claims that their videos were educational for babies. After CCFC’s complaint, Disney stopped making those claims, but did not extend a refund offer at that time. Now, anyone who bought the videos between June 5, 2004 and September 4, 2009 can get their money back.”
The New York Times reported: “The Walt Disney Company’s entire Baby Einstein marketing regime is based on express and implied claims that their videos are educational and beneficial for early childhood development,” a letter from the lawyers said, calling those claims “false because research shows that television viewing is potentially harmful for very young children.”
The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has worked tirelessly on this subject, and had this to say about the whole mess:
“The take away message? Baby Einstein DVDs are not educational. The New York Times called the refunds "a tacit admission that [Baby Einstein] did not increase infant intellect." Now parents will be able to rely on honest information and solid research - not marketing hype - when making important decisions about if and when to let their youngest and most vulnerable children watch screen media. As one mom told us, "It's great that parents will now have one less thing to worry about. No longer will they feel the pressure to have their babies watch so-called educational videos or risk falling behind."”
Amen to that. And if you have a few of these DVDs kicking around your house, you can visit this link for a refund.