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Do babies need hi-tech electronics

Posted by: , 10:17 AEDT, Fri December 16, 2005
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"Jetta is 11 months old, with big eyes, a few pearly teeth--and a tiny index finger that can already operate electronic entertainment devices."

"We own everything electronic that's educational--LeapFrog, Baby Einstein, everything," said her mother, Naira Soibatian. "She has an HP laptop, bigger than mine. I know one leading baby book says, very simply, it's a waste of money. But there's only one thing better than having a baby, and that's having a smart baby. And at the end of the day, what can it hurt? She learns things, and she loves them."

New media products for babies, toddlers and preschoolers began flooding the market in the late 1990s, starting with video series like "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby." But now, the young children's market has exploded into a host of new and more elaborate electronics for preschoolers, including video game consoles like the V.Smile and handheld game systems like the Leapster, all marketed as educational.

Despite the commercial success, though, a report released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, "A Teacher in the Living Room? Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers and Pre-schoolers," indicates there is little understanding of how the new media affect young children--and almost no research to support the idea that they are educational.

"The market is expanding rapidly, with all kinds of brand-new product lines for little kids," said Vicky Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Foundation. "But the research hasn't advanced much. There really isn't any outcomes-based research on these kinds of products and their effects on young children, and there doesn't seem to be any theoretical basis for saying that kids under 2 can learn from media. Credit and more info at: CNet News


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